*Dub Stamp 2* by Amy Sillman. The double-sided work was part of an installation at the Camden Arts Centre in London.
Photo: Luke Walker

The 5-Minute Journal: Artist Amy Sillman Opens Her Diary for Galerie

Over the course of one week, Sillman will answer three questions each day and share them with Galerie readers

In celebration of the Aspen Art Museum turning 40 this year, CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman kicked off a project in January on the pages of Galerie. She began by sharing her journal for one week with our readers. This month, she passes the torch to artist Amy Sillman, the influential contemporary painter, and asks Sillman to share her diary for a week.

AAM hosted the first museum survey of Sillman’s work, which included drawings, paintings, zines, and animated films, in 2014. Her next solo show, at the Arts Club of Chicago, opens in May and will feature free-hanging, two-sided works on paper that play upon the physical and emotional demands of markmaking.

For this journal, Zuckerman is selecting artists whom she’s worked with in the past, many of whom she’s interviewed. You can read an excerpt of a conversation that Zuckerman had with Sillman here, which has been collected, along with other conversations with artists, in her book Conversations with Artists Vol. II, which is being released in October by Aspen Art Press.

“A few months ago, I read an article about the hashtag #blessed. It was, unsurprisingly, cynical,” Zuckerman told us recently. “At this point in my life, I am very committed to the both/and (as opposed to the either/or) and know, confidently, that gratitude, art, and artists are key factors in that approach. Thus, it makes sense for me to not only share my practice but invite artists who are important to me to participate as well. I have learned a lot from artists, writers, philosophers, and social scientists who have been willing to, honestly and authentically, share their experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Inspired to do the same, I hope the audience of these gratitude journals will benefit in a comparable manner. Thank you for reading along!”

We hope you enjoy this next installment of the Gratitude Journal. —Galerie editors

Dub Stamp 1 by Amy Sillman. The two-sided installation was part of an exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre in London. Photo: Damian Griffiths

DAY 5: Amy Sillman’s 5-Minute Journal for Friday, March 8, 2019

Writer Lynne Tillman and curator Jarrett Earnest after their conversation at David Zwirner. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What was the most surprising thing about your day?
There’s an incredible show at David Zwirner called “The Young and Evil,” a brilliant mixture of erotic, surrealist, and narrative work by a group of artists, writers, and photographers in New York in the first half of the 20th century—“another modernism,” as Jarrett Earnest, curator of the show, says. I went to a conversation at the gallery Friday night between Jarrett, art historian Ann Reynolds, and writer Lynne Tillman. It was genuinely surprising to peek into the complex love lives and squabbles, and the magazines and other productions of this network of insiders and outsiders in old (and very gay) New York.

A screen being burned at Kingsland Printing, with the workshop’s resident dogs, Sarge and Janice, checking things out. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What made you feel loved today?
Today was my phone date with a pet psychic. I had waited since January for this appointment, and true to form, she said a lot of truly amazing, surprising, and helpful things about the love between dogs and their humans. I really felt it.

One of Sillman’s in-progress prints. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What is one thing you would like to have done differently today?
I was back at the printshop today, trying to finish my prints for a show in Chicago, and I realized that I should have started going crazier earlier in the day. I should have been winging it, covering things up, wiping them with squeegees, and generally going nuts on these prints. The results are almost always weirder and more interesting if I do that, and I was a little too prim until about halfway through the afternoon. But I guess I can still do risky things and maybe wreck them next week.

DAY 4: Amy Sillman’s 5-Minute Journal for Thursday, March 7, 2019

A photo of Ilia Zdanevich (1894–1975) reading a book. Photo: Columbia University

What was the most surprising thing about your day?
I went to a symposium about the Georgian Dadaist and writer Ilia Zdanevich, better known as Iliazd. He was an incredible typographer, a poet, designer, and bookmaker who lived in Georgia, Istanbul, and Paris, and he was friends with everyone but was always sort of hidden, opaque, gone. I was surprised to learn that his part-time gig was designing fabrics for Chanel. This tiny jewel of a show is now at Columbia University’s Butler Library until July 12.

An image from Carolee Schneemann’s “Eye Body” series from 1963. Photo: Carolee Schneemann

What made you feel loved today?
At 7 p.m. Wednesday night, I got a volley of texts informing me that feminist firecracker, art warrior, icon, and hero Carolee Schneemann had died. It didn’t fully hit me until this morning when I woke up. But I felt loved to have had a huge circle of people, friends, and students writing me, all sharing thoughts, memories, and anecdotes, knowing what it would mean to all of us that she’s gone. It made the art world feel like a community.

A 1922 poster by Dzanevich. Photo: Columbia University

What is one thing you would like to have done differently today?
I really did not need all those cheese logs from the snack tray at the Iliazd reception at the library. That’s my only regret today.

DAY 3: Amy Sillman’s 5-Minute Journal for Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Vincent van Gogh’s painting from 1889, Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse), at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What was the most surprising thing about your day?
I was in Boston today and saw the great Van Gogh painting from 1889, Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse). I was stunned. I had never seen it before. It’s a painting of a nursemaid who has a mysterious rope in her hands that would seem to be tethered to a cradle, but which Van Gogh said he would like to see in the cabin of a boat to give sailors the feeling of being rocked, “reminding them of their own lullabies.”

Sillman and Harry Dodge. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What made you feel loved today?
Hanging out with my old friend Harry Dodge to do a conversation at the Museum of Fine Arts for his show “Works of Love” at the Tufts/MFA gallery. It was an intensely wonderful feeling to talk publicly with a beloved friend about work that you hold dear, and to hang out with him and his family and my own cousin Isaac, who also lives in Boston.

Sillman says she wishes her talk with Dodge could have lasted longer. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What is one thing you would like to have done differently today?
I would have liked our conversation to be at least two hours long so that we could have covered way more stuff, including a lot more about the politics of abstraction. Two particular people asked big questions at the very end of the Q&A—one gentleman asked about abstraction vis-à-vis black aesthetics, and another art student asked about intuition. Both deserved a longer discussion! But at that point we just couldn’t do it. I regret that my answers were less articulate and more abrupt than they could have been. Argh.

DAY 2: Amy Sillman’s 5-Minute Journal for Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Silkscreeners at work at Kingsland Printing in Brooklyn. From left: Sara Gates, owner of Kingsland Printing; Mike Roth; and Natalie Gaimari. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What was the most surprising thing about your day?
I was making silkscreens today with my wonderful printers, Kingsland Printing, in Brooklyn. There were a bunch of things I just could not have foreseen, in both great and terrible ways. We’re making all one-offs with no planning, so every printing day is full of surprises—some delight and some dismay.

Sillman attended an “incredible” Iranian dinner. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What made you feel loved today?
Going to an incredible Iranian dinner, being surrounded by Iranian friends who were speaking Farsi, and having some of the subtleties of Farsi patiently explained to me.

French bulldogs Sarge and Janice kept Sillman and the team at Kingsland Printing company while they worked. Photo: Courtesy of Amy Sillman

What is one thing you would like to have done differently today?
I should have gone to bed earlier last night! Once again, getting up on time was hard. Once again, not a morning person . . . otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing about today, except that I should have used more ultramarine blue and less of that muddy pink in the silkscreens.

DAY 1: Amy Sillman’s 5-Minute Journal for Monday, March 4, 2019

Sillman gave a talk on color for the volunteer staff at The Met. Photo: Courtesy of Sillman

What was the most surprising thing about your day?
I gave a talk today about color at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was only for the volunteer staff. But it surprised me to learn that there are over 1,200 volunteer staff members at The Met! The talk was given in memory of a beloved former volunteer, Pat Friedman, who was clearly an incredible woman and who worked at the museum for decades. What surprised me was how many people attended and how great they were to talk to. Ms. Friedman’s family came, too, and they were fabulous. The volunteer staff are both docents and other educational people, and even the people you ask questions of (like, “How do I get to the Delacroix show?” or “Where’s the café?”). They were all incredibly welcoming and fantastic. Some of the questions during the Q&A were surprising too—one guy asked a really good question about why I didn’t address the topic of spray paint, which made me realize all of a sudden that I don’t use spray paint for some reason. Someone else asked me what my favorite painting in The Met is. I said my favorite painting is St. Anthony the Abbott in the Wilderness, but I mistakenly said it was by Sassetta. One of them wrote me afterward pointing out that it’s actually by the Master of the Osservanza Altarpiece. D’OH!!! (I was half right, though: Turns out the painting was wrongfully attributed to Sassetta for centuries.)

The Upper East Side diner where Sillman had lunch with a former student. Photo: Courtesy of Sillman

What made you feel loved today?
Hanging out with a former student from Staedelschule who was in town for a graduate school application. She’s someone I’ve always loved and believed in as a young artist. I invited her to come to my Met talk, and we had lunch in a classic Upper East Side diner, which I also loved!

The first slide of Sillman’s presentation that accompanied her talk at The Met. Photo: Courtesy of Sillman

What is one thing you would like to have done differently today?
Well, not waiting until midnight Sunday night, in the midst of a snowstorm, to finish the PowerPoint for my Met presentation. I had to be at the museum at 9 a.m. and I am not a morning person!

You can read an excerpt of a conversation that Zuckerman had with Sillman here; it has been collected along with other conversations with artists in her book Conversations with Artists Vol. II, which is being released in October 2019 by Aspen Art Press. The first volume documenting the conversation series was published in 2018.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the best in art, design, and culture from Galerie

Galerie
Thank you!