Peyton Wright Gallery

Sewell Sillman (1924-1992): Gradation, Measurement, Geometry & Scale

Sewell Sillman (1924-1992): Gradation, Measurement, Geometry & Scale

Friday, September 14, 2012Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Santa Fe, NM USA

Opening Reception: Friday September 14th, 5-8pm

Sewell Sillman was fortunate enough to experience a Bauhaus cultural legacy through his association with Josef Albers and other important avant-garde artist at Black Mountain College, a center of Bauhaus emigres from Europe in the post-war period. His genius was his ability to transform his legacy into something uniquely his own.

Sillman was born in Millen, Georgia and like many of his artistic contemporaries, found his education suspended by service in World War II. Returning to America after the war, he enrolled with a discipline in architecture at Georgia Tech University. Disaffected with his studies there, Sillman transferred to Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Sillman initially worked with design visionary Buckminster Fuller, but it was his introduction to Josef Albers that would lead Sillman away from architecture to what would become a lifelong tireless push against the boundaries of visual possibility. As Sillman's own aesthetic inquiry grew, so did his inspired relationship with Albers, evolving from acolyte to collaborator.

Sillman received his BA from Yale in 1952, and MFA in 1954. He co-founded Ives-Sillman, Inc., publishing portfolios and individual prints by artists including Josef Albers, Roy Lichtenstein, Ad Reinhardt, Willem De Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Jacob Lawrence, Piet Mondrain, Romare Bearden. Notably, but not surprisingly, Ives-Sillman also published Albers' color theories. Sillman also enjoyed a successful career as a lecturer and teacher in fine art, choosing to pursue his personal art intimately and privately.

For many artists, drawing is a mnemonic aid in a much greater plan; plot lines to be dressed with the adornment of another medium. Not for Sillman. His prolonged patient dedication to drawing as his primary mode of expression elevated draftsmanship far above mere graphic design, reporting back from beyond the thermosphere with elegant and esoteric messages which compel us to stay and practice "seeing" more fully.

Despite his reticence, Sillman was widely exhibited during his life. His works were handled by both the Stable Galleries and Sidney Janis Gallery in New York City. He is also represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York City, and The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

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