born 1921. Millen, GA
died 1992. Lyme, CT
Sewell Sillman grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and served in the army during World War II. Returning to America in 1946, he enrolled at the University of Georgia, studying architecture, but in 1948 transferred to Black Mountain College, in Asheville, North Carolina.
Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College was an experimental college concerned with giving the student a more complete education; through studies, the experience of living in a small community and manual work. The study of art was an integral part of this education. At Black Mountain Sillman met and studied with Josef Albers, who had fled to the United States in 1933 from Germany where he had been teaching at the Bauhuas. In 1950 Albers moved from Black Mountian College to Yale University, and Sillman was asked to enroll in Yale and become Albers's assistant in Albers's influential color and drawing courses. Sillman recived his BA from Yale in 1952, and MFA in 1954.
Upon graduation Sillman was invited to join the Yale faculty, and he remained there until 1966. Following this he taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and at the University of Michigan. He later taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1985 until his retirement as Professor in the Art Department in 1990.
In 1962 Sillman and fellow-Yale faculty member Norman Ives established the print publishing company Ives-Sillman, Inc. Over the next sixteen years the company published portfolios and individual prints by many artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt, Willem De Kooning, Romare Bearden, Jean Dubuffet, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Lindner and, most importantly, the work of Josef Albers, including the two influential portfolios "Interaction of Color" (1963) and "Formulation:Articulation" (1972).
Sillman's own work ranges from sinuous ink drawings from the1950s and 1960s, suggestive of undulating natural shapes; bold and vibrant paintings of the late-1950s that explore the complexity of geometrical forms and the effect of color; "portal" paintings of the 1960s that expand on the use of color; and, from the late-1970s onwards, watercolors and pen and ink drawings of an increasing size that distill much of the earlier paintings into simple and graceful works of precision and light.
Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Stable Gallery, New York
Alice Simsar Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
State University of New York, Purchase
Denise Rene Gallery, Paris
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC