Sam Gilliam, the first black artist to represent the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale, has died at the age of 88.

The David Kordansky Gallery and the Pace Gallery, which represents his work, announced Monday that the American abstract artist died on Saturday.

Born in Mississippi in 1933, Gilliam graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the University of Louisville in 1962,

before moving to Washington, DC, according to the Smithsonian American Museum of Art.

There, he became an important figure affiliated with the Washington School of Color, an abstract expressionist movement centered on color field painting.

Gilliam's 1969 work, Exploring the "Swing", described the color field of the Smithsonian Institution

as "a style characterized by large abstract compositions created by color and form rather than line and figure".

"The title [swing] reflects the movement and texture of the piece, as well as Gilliam's desire for

'Just Work and Things Go', which jazz musicians often hear in his studio," Smithsonian notes.

Gilliam's 1970 work, "Carousel Change", was featured in an exhibition entitled "Soul of a Nation: The Art of the Age of Black Power" in London's Tate Modern 2017.