Artist to Know - Sam Gilliam

This inspirational artist, creates works of art full of inspiring colors, textures, and shapes.

Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and was the seventh of eight children to Sam and Estery Gilliam. He received his Bachelor and Masters degree of Fine Arts at the University of Louisville. In 1955, Gilliam had his first solo exhibition at the University of Louisville.

He is most widely known for the large color-stained canvases he draped and suspended from the walls and ceilings during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He was inspired to do this by observing laundry hanging outside his Washington studio. This was the first of its kind and was of huge influence throughout the art world. His drape paintings were suspended from ceilings, arranged on walls or floors, and they represent a sculptural, third dimension in painting.

In 1975, Gilliam veered away from the draped canvases and started producing dynamic geometric collages, which he called “Black Paintings” due to the hue. His most recent works are textured paintings that incorporate metal forms.

Gilliam is also one of the few successful, self-supporting African American artists who views the teaching of art as a mission. Gilliam still devotes time to conducting workshops, participating in panels, and delivering lectures in this country and abroad.

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  1. I love it when you hear about an artist who is an advocate of education as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the unique shapes and colors in these works!!!

  3. I remember studying about Sam Gilliam in art history. He's a wonderful artist and uses color well. Great Post!

  4. I feel connected, since I too work in textiles and wood. Great color in these pieces.


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