Opening in the Hoopes Gallery on January 28, 2023, The Hyde Collection will showcase Sam Gilliam’s large-scale color explosion, Asking, from its permanent collection. Rising to fame in the 1960s, Gilliam (1933-2022) fully embraced an abstract idiom at a time when most Black painters were working figuratively. The concurrent exhibition of works on paper from the Harmon & Harriet Kelley Collection in The Hyde’s adjacent Wood Gallery demonstrates this trend in the history of African American art.
Gilliam is best known for color-drenched, draped canvases suspended from ceilings or hooks rather than hung flat on a wall, amounting to a radical fusion of painting and sculpture. Asking is more traditional in its stretched format, showing Gilliam for the improvisational colorist he was, with an evocative exploration of the canvas as a fabric surface. In the year Asking was painted, 1972, Gilliam was chosen to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale—the first African American artist to receive this distinction.
The exhibition also features work from the same period in Gilliam’s career generously loaned by the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Special thank you to exhibition sponsors Anne and George Morris.