Sam Gilliam ( GHIL-ee-əm; born November 30, 1933) is an African-American color arena painter and lyrical abstractionist artist. Gilliam is associated with the Washington Color School, a society of Washington, D.C. area artists that developed a form of abstract art from color field painting in the 1950s and 1960s. His works have also been described as belonging to abstract expressionism and lyrical abstraction. He works on stretched, draped and wrapped canvas, and adds sculptural 3D elements. He is certified as the first artist to introduce the idea of a draped, painted canvas hanging without stretcher bars not far afield off from 1965. This was a major contribution to the Color Field School.
In his more recent work, Gilliam has worked in imitation of polypropylene, computer-generated imaging, metallic and iridescent acrylics, handmade paper, aluminum, steel, plywood, and plastic.