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Estimate: $ 20,000 - $ 30,000
THOMAS SILLS (1914 - 2000) Red Berries.
Oil on canvas, 1959. 2134x1651 mm; 69x65 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.
Provenance: the Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., Chicago.
Exhibited: Thomas Sills, Paul Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA, May 14 - June 2, 1962; Thomas Sills, Paintings: 1953 - 1963, Bodley Gallery, New York, NY, March 3 - 14, 1964; A Johnson Publishing Story, Stony Island Art Bank, Chicago, June 28, 2018 – September 30, 2018; Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, September 5, 2019 – January 12, 2020.
Illustrated: Artforum, July, 1962.
Red Berries is a significant painting of this important but often overlooked abstract painter. Thomas Sills's paintings are characterized by layers of lush color with a variety of richly textured applications. His Red Berries embodies the transitional move between Abstract Expressionism and color field painting in the late 1950s.
Born in Castalia, North Carolina, the youngest of eleven children, Thomas Sills came to work in Harlem as a young man in the late 1920s. Upon moving to Greenwich Village in the late 1940s, Sills met Jeanne Reynal, the mosaicist and Surrealist. They married and Reynal introduced him to the New York art scene. Self-taught, Sills began to paint abstraction with various media beginning in the early 1950s. His career in New York was launched in 1955 with a solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery. He would go on to have three more solo exhibitions at Betty Parsons in 1957, 1959 and 1961, and solo exhibitions at Bodley Gallery in New York into the 1970s. Sills has been included in numerous group exhibitions - from the 1972 Contemporary Black Art in America at the Whitney Museum of American Art to the 1991The Search for Freedom: African American Abstract Painting 1945-1975 at Kenkeleba House, New York. Sills's work today is found in numerous museum collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as numerous private collections. Fine pp. 158-160.