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The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed March 2 through May 18 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned during this time. More information about our events is available at: We look forward to seeing you soon!

Muse I

Object Details

Sam Gilliam
acrylic on canvas
36 1/8 × 36 1/16 × 7/8 in. (91.7 × 91.6 × 2.2 cm)
Five diagonal stripes in shades of purple, red, and orange are the central focus of this painting, characteristic of artist Sam Gilliam’s nonrepresentational work from the 1960s. The evenly proportioned lines, created by masking off areas with tape, travel diagonally from the top left to the bottom right corner, with alternating stripes of bare canvas situated in a field of black. Analogous colors separated by lighter stripes invite the viewer to compare and contemplate the tonal shifts presented in this dynamic composition. When artist Sam Gilliam painted this canvas, he was working in the style of the Washington Color School, introduced to him by artist Thomas Downing in 1963. Considered one of the most important Color Field painters, Gilliam’s work evolved throughout his career, from his pioneering use of unsupported canvases suspended from the wall, to the textured surfaces and painted sculptures that would come to define his late work.
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