LAMA BLOG

Just In: A Seminal Work by Sam Gilliam

January 22, 2016

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to announce that our upcoming February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature On Blue (1967), an important acrylic on canvas from the pioneering Washington, D.C.-based painter Sam Gilliam.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)
Lot 211, Sam Gilliam, On Blue (1967)
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Famed for his innovative manipulations of the painting surface, Gilliam (born 1933) has long been associated with the Washington Color School movement, a small but dynamic and widely admired group of artists who, in the 1960s, began working in a style blending elements of lyrical abstraction and color field painting. Gilliam is known for the interplay of rich colors in his works, with hues that are by turns bold and luminous, fragile and translucent. He has often compared his painting to the sharps, flats, and syncopated rhythms of jazz, particularly the music of Ornette Coleman. Of John Coltrane, Gilliam has said, “That Coltrane worked the whole sheet; he didn’t bother to stop at bars and notes and clefs and various things, he just played the whole sheet at once.”

Lot 211, Sam Gilliam, On Blue (1967)
Lot 211, Sam Gilliam, On Blue (1967), verso
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

On Blue is dominated by purple, Gilliam’s favorite color. “It’s just a romantic color. It’s royal.” Brushed onto canvas that is first deeply creased, then stretched taut, the folded appearance of On Blue represents a pivotal step towards his groundbreaking “drape paintings.” Beginning in 1968, Gilliam stopped using wooden frame reinforcements to hold his canvases rigid. Rather, he displayed them draped across walls and hung from ceilings in lush, gathered layers in a radical new way exploring the sculptural possibilities of the cloth.

On Blue was painted in 1967, the year Gilliam’s work was exhibited in the rotunda of the Corcoran Gallery of Art by curator Walter Hopps, co-founder of Los Angeles’ celebrated Ferus Gallery.

Check out this recent article by Artinfo on Sam Gilliam here.

Lot Information:

Lot 211
Sam Gilliam
On Blue
1967
Acrylic on canvas with aluminum powder
Signed and dated on overlap verso; signed, titled, and dated on canvas stretcher in felt-tip marker “On Blue, 67, Sam Gilliam/29 x 54 inches” verso
Canvas: 54″ x 29″
Provenance: Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Private Collection, California (acquired directly from the above); Private Collection, California (acquired directly from the estate of the above)
Estimate: $30,000–50,000
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

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