What makes a “picture”?


Amy Sillman and Tom McGrath are very different kinds of New York artists—Amy a modern-day action painter, Tom a new breed of realist—who share an ontological approach to the problem of pictorial staging: What is this thing I am making, they ask, and how can it be said to “represent” anything other than itself? Tom uses creamy, wet paint applied with directness and brio to depict more or less real places; Amy’s paintings, though populated with figures and figurative gestures, use the canvas as a workshop in which eccentrically shaped blocks of color are cobbled together in a kind of improvisational architecture, like memories of houses that you never actually lived in. Amy comes to us by way of abstraction, and over the past decade has been completely refurbishing the formal elements of painting: color, line, shape, and texture. Tom, a younger, cerebral artist, has established himself as an innovator by painting something that had not previously been considered a subject for art—the world viewed through the windshield of a car.

more from David Salle at Paris Review here.