Swing is a color field painting–a style characterized by large abstract compositions achieved through color and form, rather than line and figuration–set loose from its stretcher. Sam Gilliam folded, squeezed, and suspended enormous sheets of canvas while the paint was still wet. The title reflects this intense physical movement as well as the piece’s swagged shape. Swing also evokes Gilliam’s desire to “just work and let things go,” as John Coltrane and other jazz musicians did in the music that frequently played in Gilliam’s studio. An African American, Gilliam moved from Mississippi to Washington, DC, in the early 1960s. He created Swing when the city was torn by racial and political protests, but Gilliam resisted the pressure to make his art explicitly about his black identity. Today, he remains a vital figure on the national scene, continuing to create paintings that reveal the lyrical and expressive capacity of abstract form.
- Not on view
- 119 5⁄8 x 283 1⁄2 in. (303.8 x 720.1 cm)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Mr. Edwin Janss, Jr.
- Mediums Description
- acrylic and aluminum on canvas
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI