Thomas Sills 

b. 1914, Castalia, North Carolina; d. 2000, New York, New York
Summer, 1952
Oil on canvas, 44 × 43 in.

Thomas Sills, Summer, 1952. Oil on canvas, 44 × 43 in. Museum purchase, Otis Family Acquisition Trust, proposed by the students in the course “Acquiring Art: Selecting and Purchasing Objects for WCMA,” Fall 2019, M.2019.22.

Summer is a work at the intersection of gestural and post-painterly abstraction. On the one hand, Sills’ impasto style follows the gestural trend visible in the styles of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline. On the other, his piece evokes post-painterly works that championed color, in part for its emotional resonance, similar to artists like Sam Gilliam, Mark Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler.

Early in his career, Sills stated: “When I get ready to paint I usually have definite ideas about the colors I want to start with although I may change after I begin. Since I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do, it helps me at least have some idea or something to go on before I start.” Sills further refined his artistic vision through the mid-twentieth century and drew inspiration from close friends, including Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. Sills exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, and his work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.