A master of American abstract art has died: Sam Gilliam was 88
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A master of American abstract expressionist art has died.
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Sam Gilliam was one of the most celebrated black artists of his generation. Over a career of more than 60 years, he expanded the boundaries of painting on canvas. He died Saturday at the age of 88.
MARTIN: Evelyn Hankins is a curator at the Hirshhorn Museum here in Washington, D.C. She says Gilliam stunned the art world in the late 1960s when he threw away the frame that stretches a canvas flat. The artist let his vibrant paintings hang and billow like garments from a clothesline.
EVELYN HANKINS: He basically challenged the idea of what a painting could or should be.
MARTINEZ: Hankins says Gilliam borrowed from the free-form improvisation of jazz music.
HANKINS: For Sam, he was both deeply engaged and a student and a lover of jazz. And I think that you find parallels in his own practice with jazz. He would bring together very complex and competing elements.
MARTIN: Sam Gilliam's final solo exhibition is on view now at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.