Produced on the occasion of the exhibition The Music of Color, Sam Gilliam, 1967–1973, 9 June–30 September, 2018, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel. Texts by Sam Gilliam, Jonathan P. Binstock, Lynette Yiadiom Boakye, Larne Abse Gogarty, Josef Helfenstein, Rashid Johnson and Rafael Squirru.
Sam Gilliam 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 by suspending stretcherless lengths of painted canvas from the walls or ceilings of exhibition spaces. For an African-American 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.