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Sam Gilliam
American, 1933 -

Fishing Well, 1997
American Painting
Acrylic on birch
94 x 48 1/2 in. (238.8 x 123.2 cm), overall

Gift of the artist,  2014.50

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About the Object

Washington D.C.-based Sam Gilliam established himself as a major artist in 1968 when he stopped using wooden stretchers to support his paintings and allowed his vivid rushes of color-stained canvas to hang, billow, and swing through space like drapery. Since that time Gilliam has gone on to create work in an astounding variety of styles while always remaining true to a fundamental disregard for the boundaries that have traditionally separated painting, sculpture, and architecture.

In the early 1990s Gilliam adopted birch plywood as a support surface for his paintings, a practice he continues to the present day. In these works Gilliam achieves an architectural physicality by using overtly sculptural material-wood and its relief properties. The surface of Fishing Well is poured acrylic paint. The images, textures, and suggestion of depth derive from the way the artist pushed and pulled the acrylic paint across the wood surface.

[Summer 2015]