Sam Gilliam (b. 1933, Louisville, KY) is one of the most innovative artists of our time. He became prominent during the 1960s as part of the Washington Color School. Gilliam contributed innovation to the school by creating the first painted canvases without stretcher bars, allowing his work to flow naturally with the architecture of the display space. His career has spanned decades and mediums, using paint, draped canvas and mixed media collage.
Still living and working in the District, Gilliam continues to apply different techniques to his exploration of color. In his most recent works, he makes expressionistic, vivid marks on layers of aluminum, Japanese paper, or wood veneer, joining them together like puzzle pieces with rivets and thread, and coated with varnish. A highlight of his career is the recent 28-foot commissioned work for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.