Sewell Sillman, Water Gate, 1960, oil on masonite, 21.5 x 21.5 inches. Florence Griswold Museum. Gift of the Sewell Sillman Foundation


August 6, 2010 – Sunday, January 9, 2011 –
Appleby Foundation Gallery – Ashville Art Museum
Pushing Limits celebrates the life and work of groundbreaking artist Sewell Sillman (1924 – 1992). In the late 1940s Sillman studied with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College. Sillman absorbed Albers’s approach to color, design and drawing and education over the decades of their work together, bringing Albers’s lessons to bear on his own art and teaching. This exhibition features many of Sillman’s graceful abstract drawings and watercolors alongside powerful color studies created in collaboration with Albers.

As one half of the art publishing team of Ives-Sillman, the artist exercised his meticulous attention to technique in creating screen prints of many of the leading artists of his era. Portfolios he created for Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella, Jacob Lawrence and Piet Mondrian attest to his technical mastery of color and screen-printing. Working proofs and documentary photographs, particularly those related to numerous editions created for Albers, emphasize the trust fellow artists placed in him.

An instructor for over 40 years at institutions such as Yale University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA, Sillman passed along the lessons of Bauhaus drawing, design and color to a younger generation of artists.

Known in the art world predominantly for his printmaking and color block paintings, Sillman kept a large body of work private for much of his career. This exhibition introduces his rarely seen early and late works, tracing his long-term investigations devoted to exploring materials, expanding techniques, and developing his personal formal vocabulary.

This exhibition was organized and curated by the Florence Griswold Museum. A catalogue will be available in the Museum Shop with essays by Mary Emma Harris and Amanda Burdan

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