Sam Gilliam is a Color Field painter and lyrical abstractionist artist associated with the Washington Color School,a group ofWashington, D.C. artists that developed a form of abstract art from color field painting in the 1950s and 1960s. His works have also been described as belonging to Abstract Expressionism and Lyrical Abstraction
1973 is a significant year in Gilliam’s ouevre. His work was showcased in the “Works in Spaces” group exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He continued to experiment with new avenues to feature his abstract painting. Using shaped canvases, various materials, etc. Contemporaries like Kenneth Noland and William T. Williams, Jr. were also experimenting with color and form in various media.
There is currently an exhibition of Gilliam’s works at the Seattle Art Museum (through 26 November 2017) which features several works painted on polypropylene.
“Sam Gilliams experimentations with paint in the 1950s and 60s opened doors to new possibilities within the innovative realm of abstraction. Inspired by a group of color-field painters who were active in Washington, DC, where he moved in 1962, Gilliam explored the materiality of the painted surface in his own way.
In the late 1960s, Gilliam began to pour paint directly onto unstretched canvas, which he would then fold or crumple while the paint was still wet and leave on the studio floor to dry. The creases allowed the paint to pool and duplicate, forming lines and patterns determined by the natural pliability of canvas and fluidity of paintand by an element of chance. Blurring the line between painted image and object, these works subvert the distinction between painting and sculpture” (excerpted from SAM exhibition notes)