Sam Gilliam


Sam Gilliam (1933-2022) is known as one of America’s most innovative painters, associated with color-field and lyrical abstract expressionism. He has introduced groundbreaking art-making techniques throughout his career - most notably removing the canvas from the stretcher and hanging his paintings in drape-like arrangements. 

Born in Mississippi, Gilliam studied at the University of Louisville and established his career and reputation in Washington D.C. along with the Washington Colour School artists such as Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland.

Gilliam's practice has constantly evolved in style and material going beyond his iconic and monumental draped canvas works. Throughout his impressive career, Gilliam has explored printmaking, painted collage, and watercolor.

Endlessly explorative, Gilliam developed a striking quilt-like pattern in the 1980s, reminiscent of African patchwork quilts from his childhood. This approach consisted of thoughtfully arranged asymmetrical geometric shapes made into bold patchwork compositions.

Although this work comes nearly a decade after Gilliam’s transition to quilted patterns, “Ichi” recalls the technique with the inclusion of raw stitching on top of layered geometric shapes. This work is an outstanding example of Gilliam’s affinity for experimentation, having incorporated contrasting shapes, textures, and colors to create a composition with a fascinating degree of depth. 

While his work from the 70s onward feels strikingly different from the drape-works, it should be pointed out that the bravest American abstract artists continued to experiment and evolve rather than continue (re)producing their debut aesthetic. (Frank Stella is another artist who similarly superseded his early style).

In the last five years or so, Gilliam’s work has enjoyed a significant renaissance; galleries and institutions across North America are mounting solo exhibitions of the artist. Notably, the Kunstmuseum Basel hosted the first major European retrospective of the artist in 2018.


USA, 1994

Monoprint with screenprint, collage, acrylic, stitching, and embossing in colors, on handmade paper

Signed, titled, dated, and numbered by artist

Numbered 30 from an edition of 40

33”H 25”W


Very good condition

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