Sam Gilliam, Cut from Feminist Cloth

THE DAILY PIC: Gilliam's 1960s paintings still feel fresh, and radical.

 

10/27/69, by Sam Gilliam

THE DAILY PIC: I saw 10/27/69, by Sam Gilliam, on a recent visit to the permanent collection at MoMA. I was blown away by how fresh the painting looked – especially compared to what passes as “compelling” painting made today. Abandoning the stretcher felt radical in ‘69, and still seems pretty daring; taking on the history of textiles, via the canvas-based art of painting, still has resonance. I’ve never thought of Gilliam as a feminist painter, but his intersection with the “woman’s work” of decorative fabrics now makes me think he deserves the title. Somehow, the fact that there was something at stake in Gilliam’s work comes through clearly, as it almost never does in paintings made in the last decade or two.

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