Birdwatcher

2004


Dimensions

66 x 78 inches

Accession Number

2004.2063

Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

Not On View

Collections

Americas, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Paintings

At once figurative, decorative, narrative and abstract, the work of Amy Sillman resists easy classification. Sillman’s gestural use of paint fits into the abstract expressionist tradition, while the sketchy, linear figures that sometimes populate her paintings - such as the binocular-equipped figure in Birdwatcher - follow in the tradition established by Willem Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, and the California School of figurative painting. Her work also freely references sources as varied as Indian miniature painting, Surrealism, Italian frescoes, and folk art. At the heart of her work is a familiarity and love of painting. The use of pastel color and thick impasto is surprising and refreshing, and the artists’ quirky sense of humor is prevalent throughout.
Not simply studies for her larger paintings, Sillman’s work on paper complement her paintings by allowing the viewer to realize the primacy of drawing in her body of work. Sillman’s method of working, though it may be seen as haphazard at first, offers as much to decipher as the imagery she uses. As seen in Untitled, the artist repeatedly works over her surfaces, juxtaposing opacity and translucence by applying filmy gesso over bright colors and collaged paper. These mixed techniques and Sillman’s fleetingly recognizable imagery work together to engage with the process as well as the history of painting.

Inscription

On canvas reverse:

Along top in red-brown paint: "Birdwatcher/ Amy Sillman (signature)/top/Amy Sillman (printed/2004

Directly on canvas reverse in ballpoint ink: "Amy Sillman/2004/Birdwatcher"

Printed inscriptions and labels:

On crossbars, imprint of stretcher manufacturer: CVI Center Vallery Incorporated and phone number

On stretcher: printed paper label from Brent Sikkema Gallery, NYC

Provenance

The artist; 2004, with Brent Sikkema, New York; purchased by MFA, Boston, December 15, 2004.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Davis and Carol Noble

Copyright

Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co.