Crystal, 1973. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery.
During the 1960's and 70's, abstraction continued to reign. Within its extensive canon, color field painters emotionally utilized panes of color whether with hard edge lines or haphazard splashes. Sam Gilliam did a bit of both. Based out of Washington D.C., Gilliam worked alongside famed Washington Color School alumni including Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. However, his technique veered in a different direction that that of the more prevalent panel painting.
Gilliam's singular "drape paintings" consisted of his pouring paint onto canvas, followed by folding it in on itself. This allows the paint to flow in any direction, creating a wash effect. The same seeping of the canvas, similarly used by Morris Louis, but on panels, evokes Gilliam's contemporaries. However, he would also splatter paint onto the surface of the canvas, reinventing his predecessors gestural work; very Jackson Pollock like.
The colors are essential to the work, but the orientation completes the harmony between the space within and around the piece. The natural flow of the hung canvas establishes shadows that are continuously playing on the wall and within the folds of the work. Whether from a passing viewer or a breeze, the canvas and its vibrant colors consistently interacts with the surrounding environment.
Now a man in his eighty's, Gilliam has continued to work, but experienced multiple decades of obscurity. During which, he was pivoting away from his draping canvas to more structural surfaces. Seen below, Gilliam constructed more hard edge pieces with a similar color consistency. Currently represented by David Kordansky Gallery in L.A., Gilliam continues creating his seeped, folded canvases. Outliving quite a number of his contemporary associates, Gilliam retains the transitional work that embodies the emotional state of color.
Relative, 1969. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery.