205.8 cm x 148 cm (81 in. x 58 1/4 in.)
(Tupelo, Mississippi, 1933 - )
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Acrylic on canvas and polyurethane enamel on aluminum
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1985
In the late 1960s Sam Gilliam helped liberate painting from its traditionally constricted presentation by loosely draping stained canvases on the wall. During the following decade, when abstract painting was still equated with the modernist dogma “less is more”, the artist employed increasingly complex and geometric internal structures in his studio works and his large-scale public commissions. The profuseness of visual elements, which has led critics to call Gilliam’s art “baroque”, imparts a dazzling and almost theatrical quality to the works and seems to reflect the dynamism of modern life. Yet the rich and energetic aspects of Gilliam’s work are typically counterbalanced by a sense of coherence and harmony. In fact, Gilliam’s art can best be described as seeming spontaneous and eccentric, while being predetermined and rigorous.
Pantheon II is one of a series of multiple-plane collages referring to the Greek word “pantheon”, a place inhabited by gods. The rhythms of shapes, colors and textures in the series echo the harmonies, dissonances and counterpoints of musical composition. Gilliam’s works have always possessed an extraordinary awareness of and power over the contexts in which they are seen; their intense coloration of clashing and complementary hues electrifies the surrounding space.