Sam Gilliam (1933 – ) grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and studied art in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1962 he moved to Washington, D.C., and created abstract paintings inspired by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and the Washington Color School movement. In the late 1960’s he began taking the canvas off of the frame, folding and draping eventually very large canvases. His first exhibited experiments of this type were at the Jefferson Place Gallery, where he was a partner, and had a number of solo shows. 

Solo Exhibitions
1965—June 7—26
1967—Nov. 28—Dec. 16
1969—New Paintings, April 1—19
1970—Recent Paintings and Watercolors, Dec. 11—Jan. 2
1971—Watercolors and Multiples, July 13—Aug. 8
1972—Nov. 27—Dec. 16
1973—Paintings, Nov. 27—Dec. 31

Group Exhibitions
1967—Group Show, Jan. 2—21
1968—Jefferson Place Ten Years, July 16–Aug. 7
1973—New Work, Sept 6—22

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Sam Gilliam by Carol Harrison
(C) Carol Harrison [ #160 ]

connected archival press clips

Painting a Vision
Painting a Vision
December 1, 1971
The Washington Post
They have the look of revolution, old conventions overturned, the past abandoned. But to seize upon their strangeness, to exaggerate their newness, is to see them out of focus. For Sam Gilliam is anything but a reckless artist.
Nesta Dorrance and the Jefferson Place Gallery
Nesta Dorrance and the Jefferson Place Gallery
September 21, 1969
The Washington Post
Sam Gilliam, 36, a tall, articulate man who wears John Lennon spectacles, recently began painting canvases up to 150 feet long that are meant to hand limply along the wall like crushed drapes.
Wherefore Art…
Wherefore Art…
December 4, 1973
The Washington Star
In the great tradition of the bronzed baby shoe, Gilliam has mounted and silvered his army boots, along with his certificate of service in the armed forces.
Sam Gilliam: More ‘Melodic’
Sam Gilliam: More ‘Melodic’
December 19, 1970
The Washington Post
Gilliam has an extraordinarily inventive mind, and with every exhibition, his work changes and expands. It also steadily improves.
Sam Gilliam: More ‘Melodic’
Sam Gilliam: More ‘Melodic’
December 19, 1970
The Washington Post
A while ago his innovative unstretched canvases had a harshness. They are sweeter now, more visually melodic, and more beautiful. Once they struck the viewer as daring, tough, experimental objects. Now–without retreat–they read as pictures.
Painting a Vision
Painting a Vision
December 1, 1972
The Washington Post
He uses paint to represent a vision. And as his current show at the Jefferson Place Gallery indicates so beautifully, he has been revealing new aspects of that vision for the past half dozen years.
Painting a Vision
Painting a Vision
December 1, 1972
The Washington Post
Although they’ve made him famous, there is something just a little scary about the swooping unstretched canvases of Washington’s Sam Gilliam.