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Sam Gilliam on Inspiration, Part II

April 4, 2011

Sam Gilliam and Renee Maurer in conversation (Photo by Evelyn Gardett)

At Thursday night’s in-gallery conversation with painter Sam Gilliam, curator Renee Maurer asked the artist what works in the Phillips inspired him. He smiled and answered, “Well, there are those magnolia trees in front of the museum.”

Throughout the talk, it occurred to me that Mr. Gilliam cited experiences in nature  as artistic sources almost as frequently as he did artworks, such as Kenneth Noland’s April (1960) and Georges Braque’s The Shower (1952).

I can understand why the museum’s tulip magnolia trees are a source of inspiration for Gilliam. Each spring I eagerly anticipate the day that the pale pink blooms will burst forth and announce the arrival of a new season. To me, those trees directly mirror the movement, texture, and colorful monumentality of his installation.

Tulip magnolia in front of the museum (Photo by Amanda Jiron-Murphy)

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