“10/27/69,” 1969, by Sam Gilliam, Acrylic on canvas, installation dimensions variable, approximate installation dimensions: 140 x 185 x 16 inches (355.6 x 469.9 x 40.6 cm), Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Abstract artist Sam Gilliam will now be represented by Pace Gallery. The gallery has venues in New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Pace will work in close collaboration with David Kordansky, whose Los Angeles-based gallery has represented Gilliam for many years.
As per the official release, “Gilliam’s enduring dedication to expanding the very idea of what painting can be is a vital part of this history.”
Arne Glimcher, Pace Gallery founder, says, “Sam Gilliam has been a radical and influential artist since his works first appeared on the scene in the mid-sixties. Inventing the path by which the canvas was freed of its support, he transformed the possibilities of picture making internationally. Draping the canvases in space, they invoke natural phenomena, like experiencing the Aurora Borealis…folded, tied, and clinging to the wall like giant butterflies — Sam is relentless in his search for beauty.”
During his formative years, Gilliam produced the Beveled-edge paintings by folding unstretched canvas before staining it with acrylic paint to create dimensional, lyrical abstractions, which were then stretched across beveled frames. The artist then started to introduce the concept of unsupported canvas to his lexicon of painting by creating the “Drape” paintings. These are composed of stained canvases that were suspended from the ceiling or wall, an act that transformed his medium and the context in which it was viewed.
The work was also a way of defining art’s role in a society undergoing dramatic social change. After earning international recognition for these innovations, Gilliam became the first African-American artist to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1972.
Gilliam has been the subject of major museum exhibitions, including, more recently, his first solo survey museum exhibition in Europe mounted at Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland, in 2018. This will be the time the artist will be represented by a New York-based gallery in his six-decade career.
Dia Art Foundation in Beacon will mount a long-term exhibition dedicated to Gilliam’s early work, which opened on August 10, 2019, from the 1960s and 1970s, placing his practice in dialogue with his Minimal and Post-minimal contemporaries such as Robert Ryman and Mary Corse, both Pace artists, who also considered painting in an expanded form.
Founder: Louise Blouin