Sam Gilliam

Artist Profile Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam received his MA in painting from the University of Louisville in 1961 and has been an active painter, teacher, and innovator since the 1950s. Gilliam was a key member of the group of artists known as the Washington Color School (1950s-1960s). This group originated in Washington, D.C., and included artists in favor of flat planes of color as opposed to gestural abstraction that was characteristic of many New York School artists from the preceding decade.  Few modern and contemporary artists are regarded as the first in employing certain techniques or artistic visions. Gilliam, however, succeeded in that effort serendipitously when he first removed his painted canvas from the stretcher and manipulated it into a three-dimensional draped sculpture. While Gilliam is perhaps best known for his drape paintings, he also created colorful collages, prints, works on paper, and two-dimensional paintings inspired and influenced by jazz music and Abstract Expressionism.

Sam Gilliam, 2014. Photography: Steven Frietch. Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, California.