Gilliam's work first gained national prominence in the late 1960's
with the debut of his dramatically innovative drape paintings. Since
that time, he has had a long illustrious career, which has included
numerous awards, grants and important public commissions. His paintings
are in major museum collections including the Metropolitan, MOMA and
the Whitney, in New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Menil Collection,
Tate Gallery, London, Musee d'Arte Moderne,Paris, and all the major
museums in Washington, DC.
Gilliam's most recent museum exhibition was at the Kreeger Museum
in Washington. The following excerpts are from the exhibition catalogue:
recent work continues to express his fascination with structured
He is now creating vividly colored three-dimensional constructions
of acrylic on birch plywood, often with collage elements.
new paintings are as complex technically as they are spatially. Gilliam
begins by staining sheets of plywood with acrylic and polymer paints,
sometimes in a gel medium that creates a translucent, almost glassy
surface. The sheets are then cut up and cut out
The parts are then hinged back together on either side of a stable
center, creating wings in the manner of medieval altarpieces. ...Gilliam
has always worked in series; his current paintings are no exception.
in series allows him to explore chromatic and compositional relationships
not only within a painting, but between several paintings in a suite.
has likewise been a consistent feature of Gilliam's work over the
years. Typically the artist has pieced together the cut-ups of his
Matisse's cut-outs, Gilliam's paintings aspire at once to chromatic
and compositional intricacy and to material and technical invention.
Playful but serious, they embody a commitment to modernism
are a celebration of artistic freedom, of the power and the primacy
of the individual imagination: this is one of the fundamental articles
of modernist faith".**
**Gilliam in 3-D, catalogue essay by John Beardsley,
The Kreeger Museum, Oct 16, 1998 - Jan. 2, 1999.