James Gill, a contemporary of such great Pop Artists as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, was born in a Tahoka, Texas, in 1934. Gill worked as an architectural draftsman designing posters and drafting military plans while serving a tour of duty in the Marines. Upon his return, he started studying painting at San Angelo College, followed by a stint at an architectural firm in Midland. At the age of 25, Gill moved to Austin to begin his studies at the University of Texas before taking a job as an architectural designer in Odessa. It was then that Gill started painting seriously.
In the early 60's, Gill made his move to Los Angeles where he made a rapid ascent in the emerging "Pop Art" scene. Gill's fame was burgeoning when the most popular artists were also incorporating popular culture onto their canvasses. However, Gill was uniquely integrating "contemporary consciousness and a classical tradition", which are exemplified in such works as his Marilyn Monroe Triptych and Nude on a Red Sofa. His art was featured in the "Environment USA 1957-67" exhibition in Brazil along with such greats as Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. Unsurprisingly, Gill's canvasses were hanging in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and his artwork was on the cover of Time Magazine. Pop Art was becoming universal and artists like Warhol, Rosenquist, Johns, Oldenburg, Stella and Gill were icons; their works appearing in art's greatest institutions, the Whitney, the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art.
Then in 1972, at the peak of his popularity, Gill went into a self-imposed exile. He along with a group of other idealists, which included other artists, writers and poets took refuge in a commune in the small town of Whale Gulch, on the California/Oregon border. Rather than succumbing to the oncoming "me generation", this group felt that within this artist colony they would be able to express themselves free of material trappings and other outside influences.
Gill stayed away from the mainstream art world for 30 years. During his extended absence, the Pop Art phenomenon flourished, but through the decades that passed, James Gill became a Pop Art legend and icon.
Museum of Modern Art New York City, NY
Whitney Museum New York City, NY
Berkley Art Museum University of California, Berkley, CA
Smithsonian Museum of Art Washington D.C.
The Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts San Angelo, Texas