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Sam Gilliam

Swiper-A Thumbnails
Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"
Snow Lane (detail), 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"
Snow Lane (detail), 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"
Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"
Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"

Installation View
Snow Lane (signature detail), 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"
Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"

Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"

Inquire
In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25
In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25
In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25

In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25

Inquire
Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"
Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"
Cool Zebras #9 (detail), 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"
Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"

Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"

Inquire
Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30
Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30

Installation View
Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30
Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30
Lily's Print (left) (signature detail), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30
Lily's Print (left) (detail), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30
Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30

Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30

Inquire
For the Fog, 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"
For the Fog (signature detail), 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"
For the Fog, 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"

For the Fog, 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"

Inquire
For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"
For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"

Installation View
For the Fog (signature detail), 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"
For the Fog (detail), 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"
For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"

For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"

Inquire
Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"

Snow Lane, 1996

multi-layered relief, die-cut, collaged monoprint with raked acrylic medium on handmade paper

34 1/2" x 34 1/2"

In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25

In the Fog, 2010

mixed media relief, acrylic paint, nylon thread, and collage on handmade paper

31" x 38"

unique from edition of 25

Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"

Cool Zebras #9, 1997

multi-layered relief and die-cut collage with hand additions

12" x 12"

Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30

Lily's Print (left), 2002

relief on wood veneer

34" x 24"

ed. 30

For the Fog, 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"

For the Fog, 2010

relief, digital, acrylic paint, polymer varnish, rivets, aluminum plate, wood veneer, hand sewing

28 1/2" x 44"

For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"

For the Fog, 2010

relief, acrylic paint, wood veneer, varnish, Japanese paper, rivets, handmade paper

28" x 43 1/2"

Biography

Sam Gilliam (1933-2022) became prominent during the 1960s as part of the Washington Color School. Born in Tupelo, MS, and raised in Louisville, KY, Gilliam is best known for his innovative Drape paintings, painted canvases without stretcher bars that were hung from the ceiling or draped along walls. The innovation allowed his work to flow naturally, looping and overlapping free from the architecture of the frame, thereby bridging the gap between painting and sculpture. Gilliam's career has spanned decades and mediums, primarily canvas and mixed media collage.

Gilliam studied painting at the University of Louisville, receiving both undergraduate and graduate degrees, before moving to Washington, DC in 1962. He became an art teacher at McKinley Technical High School, his first of many teaching positions, and began an influential friendship with Color School painter Thomas Downing. Gilliam's career took off in 1969 when he shocked the local art scene with his solo show of Drape paintings. In 1972 he became the first Black artist to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale.

Many Black artists of the 60s and 70s were expected to engage in overtly political art, and as an abstract artist Gilliam resisted those expectations. However, although most of his work was not overtly political, he did address current events, such as Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination and the Vietnam War protests, in his painting titles.

Sam Gilliam - Artists - About Bethesda Fine Art

Gilliam's later works incorporated expressionistic, vivid marks on layers of aluminum, Japanese paper, or wood veneer, joining them together like puzzle pieces with rivets and thread, and coated with varnish. Gilliam even sewed canvas or paper together, referencing quilting. A highlight of his career is the recent 28-foot commissioned work for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. A solo show of Gilliam's work opened at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2022, the artist's first since his 2005 Corcoran Gallery of Art retrospective.

Gilliam's work is in the collections of the Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and more.