Sam Gilliam, ‘Rays’, 1971, Sotheby's

From the Catalogue
"Only when making the work can I determine the many languages that form the planes on which it is to exist. Like abstract phrases, the many intentions of the work pass through an intuitive sieve…The work was not planned, there are ploys, however, to the way it was laid out and then put together."
Sam Gilliam
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Signature: signed, titled and dated 71 on the reverse

Private Collection, Washington, D.C.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1975

About Sam Gilliam

A pillar of the Washington, D.C., modern and contemporary art communities, internationally acclaimed abstract painter Sam Gilliam has been testing the boundaries of color, form, texture, and the canvas itself over the course of his long, productive career. Filling canvases with fields of deeply saturated color and layers of expressionistic brushstrokes, both subtle and bold, Gilliam was a part of the Washington Color School (late 1950s through mid-’70s) and has been associated with the Abstract Expressionists. Ever the innovator, he took his color-stained canvases off of the stretcher in the late 1960s and presented them in radical new ways: draped across walls and hung from the ceiling in generous, folding layers. These sculpture-painting hybrids have become a defining part of Gilliam’s practice and inflect all of his work with an ongoing exploration of the depth, physicality, and resonance of color.

American, b. 1933, Tupelo, Mississippi, based in Washington, DC, United States

Solo Shows

New York,
Sam Gilliam: Canvases and Works on Paper, 1970-1975
Griot's Art Gallery, Center for Haitian Studies, 
Miami, FL, United States,
Spirit of Collaboration: Sam Gilliam and Lou Stovall
Seattle Art Museum, 
Seattle, WA, United States,
Sam Gilliam
David Kordansky Gallery, 
Los Angeles, CA, United States,
Green April
View Artist's CV