Sam Gilliam established himself as a major artist in 1968 when he jettisoned the wooden stretcher bars that had previously determined the shape of his paintings and allowed his vivid, sometimes ecstatic, rushes of color-stained canvas to hang, billow, and swing through space. Yet Gilliam's contributions to art history extend far beyond these often monumental and always dramatic works. In this volume, the first in-depth book devoted to this major figure, Corcoran Gallery of Art Curator of Contemporary Art Jonathan P. Binstock explores four decades of work and establishes the artist’s place in the history of post-1960s art. Binstock’s wide-ranging and provocative inquiry into Gilliam’s groundbreaking achievements as a modernist and as an African American artist is supported with a wealth of beautifully produced illustrations—both full-color and black-and-white—as well as an annotated and illustrated chronology and an exhaustive bibliography. This thoughtful exploration and appraisal of Gilliam’s extraordinary oeuvre places the artist at the forefront of American abstract art.
Copub: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Foreword: An Abiding Vision
Foreword: Remembering a Revelation
Introduction: The Ever-Changing Shape of a Singular Career
1. From Louisville to Washington: Breakthrough
2. Discarding the Frame
3. Protean Sam Gilliam
Annotated Chronology and Selected Exhibition History
Selected Public Collections
Lenders to the Exhibition
Jonathan P. Binstock is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He is a co-author of The 48th Corcoran Biennial: Closer to Home (2005) and the author of Atomic Time: Pure Science and Seduction (2003), The 47th Corcoran Biennial: Fantasy Underfoot (2002), and Andy Warhol: Social Observer (2000). Walter Hopps was Curator of Twentieth-Century Art at The Menil Collection, Houston, and Adjunct Senior Curator of Twentieth-Century Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York. Jacquelyn D. Serwer is Chief Curator, Corcoran Gallery of Art.
“A fresh, intelligent, and insightful assessment of Sam Gilliam's lifetime achievements as an artist. Binstock accomplishes this through his penetrating critical examination of Gilliam's artistic development, innovations, and the complexities of his contribution both as an abstract and African-American artist.”—Valerie J. Mercer, author of Explorations in the 'City of Light'
"Sam Gilliam: A Retrospective, which gives focus and definition to an artist critical to our understanding of how contemporary painting has evolved in this country, is a highly welcome publication."—Leslie King-Hammond, Dean of Graduate Studies, Maryland Institute College of Art
"Sam Gilliam: A Retrospective is a thorough and serious assessment of a magisterial career. Meticulously examining Gilliam's ideas, aesthetics, influences, artistic process, and impact on other artists, it illuminates his brilliance and the important role played by his work in the recent history of American painting."—Maurice Berger, Fellow, The Vera List Center for Art & Politics, The New School
"Finally a comprehensive study of one of our most significant artists! Jonathan Binstock's erudite account of Sam Gilliam's innovations in the world of art fills a considerable void in our understanding of painterly abstraction. The art works themselves-cerebral, sentient, and fascinating-consummate the inquiry and make this book a visual delight."—Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University
"Binstock's writings on Sam Gilliam's art over the past four decades have placed the artist in the forefront of contemporary American art. In this new book, he recounts Gilliam's rise to an artist of international prominence and offers a concise history of contemporary art in Washington. A must read."—David D. Driskell, author of Two Centuries of Black American Art
"This comprehensive text celebrates one of America's hidden national treasures. Gilliam's steadfast and unswerving commitment as an artist shines through his works, as in this account of them by Jonathan Binstock. What emerges here is a full-on profile of an artist and a black American."—Lowery Stokes Sims, President, The Studio Museum in Harlem