Sam Gilliam is remembered for his endlessly inventive practice that upended distinctions between painting and sculpture. Like other Color Field artists in the mid-20th century, he eliminated the brush and poured diluted paint directly onto unprimed canvases. He famously went a step further and eliminated the stretchers to let his canvases drape like banners. Gilliam’s experiments extended to his work as a printmaker, as seen in this dynamic geometric collage from his Back to Lattice series, comprised of multicolored fragments salvaged from earlier print projects.
In his life and work, Gilliam persevered through serious mental and physical health issues, including treatment for bipolar disorder. Despite these personal challenges, Gilliam’s spirit of freedom and willingness to counter expectations remain hallmarks of his long and prolific career. You can see this work and dozens more by Gilliam in Mia’s collection online.