I think there will probably be two
different reactions. You know, this looks like the ’60s and ’70s. There’s a hint of drug culture, there’s a hint of psychedelia in some of the paintings. I think the other reaction or maybe it’s even the same as that this looks really
fresh. Spilling Over is an exhibition of paintings, all of which come from the
Whitney’s collection, and they’re paintings that were made in the 1960s and the very
early 1970s, where color is really the animating factor in the painting. It’s kind of a gathering of artists who might have different politics or backgrounds or
inclinations. Sam Gilliam is an artist whose ideas and whose radical sensibility have had a tremendous effect on my work, as have the work of other
artists who are in the exhibition: Bob Thompson, Emma Amos, Morris Lewis, Frank Stella. Sam’s work really provides—it feels like infinite possibilities. And what was he thinking, you know? What what was the radical gesture? Was that radical gesture of emancipating the canvas from the stretcher bars one that reflected the sense of emancipation
or freedom that was being searched for by people of color at the time? More often than not, you have to assume that there is some sort of relationship
between radical gestures in art, and radical gestures in the world. One will see in these paintings by artists like Sam Gilliam or Alvin Loving that what their paintings do is that they activate our eye but we’re very conscious of our
bodies as well. I felt that painting a figure in a
traditional way was too romantic, you know, I didn’t want to do Courbets. “April Contemplating May” is a is a picture of two women in a space defined by color,
and they are in color. Not white girls. I think it’s one of our great
opportunities through our collection to bring out these narratives, these
histories, to really rethink who these figures are and what their works meant
at that time and what they can mean now. That’s why an institution collects, right?
It’s to begin to reframe the histories.