Sam Gilliam’s Lasting Impressions

Terence Trouillot at Frieze:

Gilliam’s story is the all-too-familiar one of a Black artist only receiving critical acclaim and attention much later in his career. Although many were aware of his genius well before he came into the limelight, he simply was not given his due as one of the best abstractionists of his generation. I fell in love with his work early on, like many of us, through research and books. His drapery paintings – massive sculptural canvases, stained with whisps of colour and hung in various clumps sans stretcher – singlehandedly revitalized my passion for the medium. He was an expert colourist and a brilliant manipulator of materials. In so many ways, he taught me through his work what it meant to be a true master painter. Recently, I was lucky enough to see two great, posthumous shows of Gilliam’s work: ‘White and Black Paintings: 1975–77’ at David Kordansky in Los Angeles and ‘Late Paintings’ at Pace London. These two exhibitions served as effective bookends to Gilliam’s illustrious career. Many of the works in both shows looked simultaneously contemporary and historical: in the 1960s and ’70s, he experimented with bevelling his canvases, a technique he would return to much later.

more here.