Image Credits: Artist choice: Amy Sillman from MOMA website
Amy Sillman’s The Shape of Shape is the part of MOMA’s Artist’s Choice program in which MOMA invites artists to select works from MOMA’s collection and to curate exhibition. Amy Sillman, who is this year's artists' choice curator, feels that shape is an important visual element that people don’t talk much about.
The selected artworks have a wide spectrum of styles and depict different subject matters, from Lee Bontecou’s welded steel and canvas sculpture, to photographs of a Carolee Schneemann’s performance; from an Edvard Munch lithograph of a bear, to prints of Senga Nengudi’s “Inside/Outside” performance. The exhibition creates interesting dialogues between artworks from different historical contexts. However, the exhibition design seems poorly executed. The room was extremely overpacked even for a salon style layout. With tilted artworks resting on different stairs of pedestal and large-scale abstract paintings barely fitting on the wall, the design of exhibition feels very disorganized. The floor to ceiling “salon style hang” can be dated back to 1667 with the emergence of annual Royal Academy salons in Paris. This style of hanging technically allowed more artwork to be featured in exhibition and more efficient utilization of wall space. Unfortunately, the chosen artworks in the exhibition are not suitable for salon-style hanging because there is so little negative space in between each artworks. It is a major pitfall that an exhibition focuses on shape that doesn’t really pay attention to negative space, which itself is defined by shapes and thus doesn't encourage a positive conversation between each shape focused artworks. Depending on the viewer’s position, the artworks can sometime even overlap with each other which interfere the artist’s composition.
Amy Sillman’s The Shape of Shape brings out new conversations from the works in MOMA collection, However, it presents a gap between an interesting curatorial concept to a not well-considered final execution.