What We're Reading: 6/28/22
One of the most important and influential abstract visual artists in the U.S. has died: Sam Gilliam, a great colorist whose work influenced generations of artists, was 88 years old. Gilliam's death on Saturday was announced by the Pace Gallery, which had represented him since 2019, and the David Kordansky Gallery, which had represented him since 2012. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Miss., in 1933 as the seventh child of eight to a father who worked on the railroad and a homemaking mother. He attended the University of Louisville for both bachelor's and master's degrees, but in 1962 moved to Washington, D.C., where he lived and had his studio for the rest of his life. He became one of the leading artists of the Washington Color School — a 1950s movement that emphasized large fields of color.
He was very interested in freeing his paintings from the boundaries of canvases and frames.
The first painting visitors to “Cezanne” at the Art Institute of Chicago encounter is “Undergrowth (Sous-Bois)” (c. 1894), a pine-forest scene painted from a bit below the trees, gazing up, with a barely perceivable horizon, and formed from patches of distinct marks that suggest just a slight fluttering. Some elements, like a rust-colored mound on the left, take shape only from several steps away.
It is an inspired choice. Unusually (then) for a landscape, it’s a vertical canvas; it lacks a focal point; and it verges on being what later came to be called an “all-over painting,” with the image spilling past the edges of the canvas. Every bit as perplexing as it is engaging, “Undergrowth” serves as an apt metaphor for Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) himself.
In a recent message to members WMG shared, "Jamie Pitts has recently stepped down as Managing Director. The Board of Directors is currently transitioning Jamie’s responsibilities to board members with the help of Darshita Jain, Programming Lead. We sincerely thank Jamie for stewarding the gallery during a challenging time in our history. As we approach the 30-year anniversary exhibition, Generations, please visit us at the gallery, participate in our public programming, and keep an eye out for more information. We will keep updating and including you in this journey with us."
Read the full announcement here.