The Museum of Modern Art will launch the new MoMA building(s) with Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman—The Shape of Shape, an exhibition of nearly 75 works from MoMA’s collection selected by Sillman (b. 1955), an artist who has helped redefine contemporary painting, pushing the medium into installations, prints, zines, animation, and architecture. On view from October 21, 2019, through April 20, 2020, the exhibition includes a wide array of works, many rarely seen, installed in a unique shelving display on the fifth floor of The Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley Building.
In this exhibition, Sillman presents a highly personal exploration of shape—the ever-shifting boundaries that define what and how we see—in modern art. Works spanning vastly different time periods, places, and mediums engage the eccentric forms and unpredictable contours of bodies, fragments, gestures, and shadows. Sillman examines the creation of shape as an act of subjective choice—in contrast to art made by following systems, rules, or grids, conventions that have often dominated artistic practice throughout the 20th century. The Shape of Shape is organized by Amy Sillman with Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator, and Jenny Harris, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.
The Shape of Shape includes works by a diverse range of artists, including Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938), Louise Bourgeois (American, born France, 1911–2010), Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), Thomas Mukarobgwa (Zimbabwean, 1924–1999), Lois Lane (American, b. 1948), and Charline von Heyl (German, b. 1960), among many others.
The Shape of Shape is the 14th installment of MoMA’s Artist’s Choice series, in which a contemporary artist organizes an installation drawn from the Museum’s collection. Recent participants in the series, which was inaugurated in 1989, include Peter Fischli (2018), David Hammons (2017), Trisha Donnelly (2012), and the architects Herzog & de Meuron (2006).
Reflecting on her curatorial process, Sillman said, “Even though shape is everywhere, we don’t talk about it much; it’s not a hot topic in art, like color or systems. So I decided to look for works in MoMA’s collection in which shape does prevail over other considerations. I found a wealth of artworks, far too many to include here, by artists who dig into life’s surfaces, who start with physical perception rather than abstract logic. Often eccentric, poetic, or intimate, these works are like bodies that speak, operating at the hub of language and matter, signs and sensations.”
The Artist’s Choice Exhibition Series is made possible through The Agnes Gund Artist’s Choice Fund endowed by Iara Lee and George Gund III, Lulie and Gordon Gund, Ann and Graham Gund, and Sarah and Geoffrey Gund. Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund.