Works in the Collection
Sam Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1933 and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned a B.A in fine art (1955) and an M.A. in painting (1961) from the University of Louisville. Gilliam served in the Army 1956-1958. In 1962 he married Dorothy Butler and moved to Washington, D.C. He was soon introduced to the Washington Color School, a movement to which he contributed the innovative use of the unsupported canvas. In the 1970s Gilliam’s inspiration shifted to jazz, during which time he produced a series of geometric collage work. In the 1980s, he was inspired by African patchwork quilts and produced a series of quilted paintings. Gilliam continues to work in his studio in Washington, D.C.
Gilliam has taught at the Corcoran School of Art, the Maryland Art Institute in Baltimore, the University of Maryland, Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in the Washington Public School System. He has received a number of awards, including National Endowment for the Arts Activities Grants in 1967, 1973–1975, and 1989, and a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1971. His work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The National Gallery, the Guggenheim, and the Tate Modern, among many others.