The Ringling is pleased to announce a new exhibition of the work of Sam Gilliam. The exhibition is being drawn primarily from local collections and features work from the early 1970s to 2010.
Sam Gilliam is one of the most important abstract artists working today. He will have a career retrospective, at the age of 87, in 2022 at the Smithsonian Institution Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Known for his experimental exploration of materials and constant invention, Gilliam first came to critical attention in the 1960s as a later member of the Washington Color School artists. To emancipate his art from constraints, Gilliam infused his appreciation of blues and jazz improvisation to be conceptualized in abstraction. His radical freedom to express spontaneity when working with materials created the first of his important “drape” paintings in the late 1960s that he would continue to explore throughout his career. By removing the canvas from the traditional stretcher, Gilliam created innovative work that was both painting and sculpture. His installation of the “drape” works filled galleries with painted canvases suspended off the walls or from the ceilings and often draped over objects such as sawhorses or ladders. These pieces encouraged improvisation because they could not be hung in the same manner twice.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Image: Sam Gilliam, Crystal and Counter Light, 1994, Acrylic on birch plywood with metal frame, 47 x 47 x 2”, Private Collection, Sarasota