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Sam Gilliam
B. 1933, Tupelo, Mississippi. Lives and works in Washington, D.C.

From Carrie Dedon, Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum:

Sam Gilliam’s long and distinguished career is defined by constant experimentation. He’s pushed the envelope on abstraction and the medium of painting itself. When he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1962, Gilliam diverged the 
Color Field Painting of the day as he innovated not just with paint and color, but with the materiality of the artwork’s surface. He began to pour paint directly onto unstretched canvases, folding or crumpling them while the paint was still wet, and leaving them to dry on the studio floor. The creases allowed the paint to pool, forming lines and patterns determined by the natural qualities of the materials—the pliability of canvas, the fluidity of paint—and by an element of chance.
The resulting work blurs the line between painted image and three-dimensional object—an effect that was heightened when, in the 1960s, Gilliam took the radical step of draping his canvases on the wall, where they bunched and billowed like tapestries. The painted canvas radically subverts the academic distinctions between the sculptural, environmental, and architectural realms. Gilliam continues to experiment with his work—in the beveled edges of his stretched canvases; in the dense, stucco-like surfaces of the “Black” and “White” paintings; in the insertion of collage elements onto canvas, and in many other ways. He’s opened the door for new conversations about the possibilities of abstract painting.
David Hammons
B. 1943, Springfield, Illinois. Lives and works in New York.

From Elena Filipovic, Director and Chief Curator, Kunsthalle Basel:

Anything written on David Hammons must, perforce, begin with an admission of doubt. Because Hammons, an artist best known to the art world for his refusal to participate in its rites and rules, has made a life work of tactical evasion. Rumours, myth and hearsay about him abound—often, naturally, contradictory. Perhaps fittingly so, since some of his most significant works—Bliz-aard Ball Sale [a 1983 performance in which he sold snowballs on a New York City sidewalk] prime among them—have been unabashedly ephemeral, evanescent and unannounced. How, then, could one possibly speak of his work conclusively or factually? (Excerpt taken from David Hammons: Bliz-aard Ball Sale, 2017, with the curator’s permission.)
Because Hammons knows that to be black in an art world as white as the walls of its museums, and in an America where privilege and presence and whiteness go hand in hand, is to realize that visibility is something to mess with, to disavow. […] From the late 1960s to the present, Hammons has powdered his drawings with Harlem dirt; attached deep-fried chicken wings by fish hooks to a friend’s discarded Persian rug or to cheap costume jewelry; covered stones with “nappy” hair and given them razor-cut hairstyles; lined telephone poles holding up impossibly high basketball hoops with thousands of bottle caps; hung barbecued ribs from wall sculptures made from greasy paper bags; and left upturned empty wine bottles on the branches of trees in vacant Harlem lots. (Excerpt taken from The Artist as Curator: An Anthology, 2017, with the curator’s permission.)

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