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Eiler Blues

Sam Gilliam


oil on stitched and unstretched awning canvas with grommets and objects

approximately 7' x 16', 84" x 192"

Sam Gilliam is an abstract artist originally associated with the Washington Color School of the late 1950s and 1960s. Artists aligned with this movement were known for staining their canvases with color so as to emphasize a painting’s two-dimensionality. Later, Gilliam was recognized as the first artist to remove the wooden stretcher bars that determined the shape of his paintings, thereby allowing his vivid, color-stained canvases to hang, billow, and swing through space.

In Eiler Blues, Gilliam continues to draw our attention to the physicality of a painting by stitching together irregularly shaped pieces of striped canvas originally intended for an outdoor awning. Further eschewing the notion of a traditional, rectangular framed oil painting, he cut a triangle into the eccentric shape and leaned a steel beam onto the dappled surface. An attached and painted brick interrupts the flat surface of the canvas and weighs against it, while a wood form with a knob acts as a stamp impressing itself into the paint.


Gift of Donald and Nancy Eiler