Skip to content


David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce a solo presentation with Sam Gilliam at Frieze New York, featuring a selection of beveled-edge paintings from the late 1960s and early 1970s. These historic works will reintroduce viewers to the signal formal innovations of a revolutionary figure in postwar American art. In 1967, preparing for his first solo museum exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., Gilliam started radically experimenting with the application of his acrylic paint and its material support. Breaking from his previous hard-edge paintings, as well as the flatness and pure opticality of his local Color School peers, he began crumpling and folding his canvases while staining and splattering them with paint. In the resulting brushless abstractions, colors bleed together and overlap in chance encounters, forms mirror each other rhythmically over structuring creases, and the picture plane becomes as much evidence of a sculptural process as a visual field of Gilliam's characteristically bold palette. 

As if to further emphasize the physicality of these images and their handwrought development, Gilliam started stretching the finished canvases over a frame with beveled contours. Each installed work appears at once to slope into the surrounding wall and burst forth from it, foregrounding the painting as an object in space with an active relationship to its site. The first beveled-edge paintings are important precursors for the iconic drape paintings Gilliam would begin to create soon afterward, and a prime example of his treatment of painting as an installation-based, if not also social phenomenon. Representing pioneering steps in expanding the medium's sculptural and architectural potential, Gilliam's beveled-edge paintings are a powerful and prescient antecedent for recent non-representational and non-objective art.

Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) is in the collections of many prestigious institutions worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; The Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 2005.