Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam

August 24, 2023 – December 23, 2023

Supporter Hours ?
August 24, 2023 at 6:00 pm

In celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary, Atlanta Contemporary (AC) announces two major solo exhibitions that showcase legacy artist, Sam Gilliam, in dialogue with emerging artist Hasani Sahlehe.

Atlanta Contemporary, today a celebrated non-collecting museum, began in 1973 as an artist-run space dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions. It has been Atlanta Contemporary’s mission for 50 years to be a platform for emerging and established artists to exhibit their work. In honor of the 50th Anniversary, Atlanta Contemporary presents dynamic exhibitions that honor our past and look to the future.

Sam Gilliam
Curated by Veronica L. Hogan

Sam Gilliam, known for his groundbreaking contributions to the Color Field movement and his innovative approaches to abstraction, reshaped the boundaries of contemporary art throughout his illustrious career. His masterful fusion of color, form, and materiality has earned critical acclaim and an esteemed place in the canon of art history.

This exhibition brings together a curated selection of Gilliam’s artworks spanning various periods of his career. Including, but not limited to, works on paper, sculptural assemblages, and painted tapestry, AC’s audiences will have the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the artist’s dynamic and visually stunning creations. Occupying the entirety of Gallery 3, this exhibition presents Gilliam’s artworks on a scale and with a breadth heretofore unseen in the region.

“With the utmost gratitude to artist Kevin Cole and the incredible regional collectors who have so willingly agreed to loan artworks from their collections, it is my pleasure to announce this remarkable exhibition,” says Veronica L. Hogan, director of Atlanta Contemporary. “Gilliam, who has exhibited in the Atlanta Contemporary galleries over the past 50 years, represents some of the best in abstraction. It is our privilege to showcase his artworks and place them in dialogue with emerging abstract painter, Hasani Sahlehe.”

Presented by Forward Arts Foundation


Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam was one of the great innovators in postwar American painting. He emerged from the Washington, D.C. scene in the mid 1960s with works that elaborated upon and disrupted the ethos of Color School painting.

A series of formal breakthroughs would soon result in his canonical Drape paintings, which expanded upon the tenets of Abstract Expressionism in entirely new ways. Suspending stretcherless lengths of painted canvas from the walls or ceilings of exhibition spaces, Gilliam transformed his medium and the contexts in which it was viewed. As an artist in the nation’s capital at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, this was not merely an aesthetic proposition; it was a way of defining art’s role in a society undergoing dramatic change. Gilliam pursued a pioneering course in which experimentation was the only constant. Inspired by the improvisatory ethos of jazz, his lyrical abstractions took on an increasing variety of forms, moods, and materials.

In addition to a traveling retrospective organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 2005, Sam Gilliam was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1971); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1982); Whitney Museum of American Art, Philip Morris Branch, New York (1993); J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville, Kentucky (1996); Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (2011); and Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2018), among many other institutions. A semi-permanent installation of Gilliam’s paintings opened at Dia:Beacon in August 2019. His work is included in over fifty public collections, including those of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Gallery 3 gallery map

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