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Saturday, January 28, 2006

A master of color too long in the shadows


This was the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal reviewing an exhibit of Sam Gilliam's art at the Corcoran Museum, which recently ended. I noticed the resemblance of the photo in the article to a piece hanging in the entrance to the galleries of the Dayton Art Institute. I've grown to love this piece, especially in its current location, where it seems to float in space, a huge, radiant, bird-like presence that dominates the foyer of the museum. The canvas is 9 ft. 10 in. H by 25 ft. 8 in. W. The DAI purchased this piece in 1987 before its expansion. The painting was hung in a rather dark stairwell of the Italian Renaissance building and the first time I saw it, I thought it was a painter's dropcloth, I'm sorry to say. But after the museum's expansion in 1997 Gilliam's colorful work was given a proper presentation and lighting. It's the first artwork you see when you enter the museum.

Google "Sam Gilliam" images to see more of his work. Watch for the Corcoran exhibition in Louisville, Ky, Savannah, Ga and Houston, Tx.

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