Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Acquisitions: "Patchwork/Terry" by Sam Gilliam

Created by abstract painter Sam Gilliam in 1980, “Patchwork/Terry” was commissioned by Rita Curran Morgan, Teresa Friedlander’s mother, as a college graduation gift for her daughter, whom she called “Terry.” Teresa has enjoyed this work for over three decades and, through her generous gift, has extended this opportunity to countless new visitors to the Georgia Museum of Art, in memory of her mother. Morgan was an administrative assistant to Gilliam and his wife, Dorothy, during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Gilliam is a significant figure in the development of abstract color field painting. A prolific painter currently active in the Washington, D.C., area, Gilliam gained initial recognition in the late 1960s for his large and colorful, unstretched — or “draped” — canvases. In the 1980s, his techniques included putting large pieces of canvas on the floor and pouring or throwing acrylic paint on them to build thick layers. The artist then used a rake, broom or fingers to move the paint to add texture and reveal the various colors. When the canvases dried, Gilliam cut them into geometric shapes and pieced them together into three-dimensional paintings over polygonal wooden stretchers, as with “Patchwork/Terry.” Here, Gilliam exposes its painted edges, suggesting spatial qualities akin to sculpture, with the work itself appearing as colorful, textured fragments reminiscent of quiltmaking.

Shawnya Harris
Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator
of African American and African Diasporic Art

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