June Harwood

(1933 - 2015)

LAMA set the auction record for any work by June Harwood in the May 17, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction with an oil on canvas from 1964 (Lot 200), which realized $33,750.

About The Artist

 

California art critic Jules Langsner coined the description “hard-edge abstraction” initially for a 1959 exhibition that included four West Coast artists–Karl Benjamin, John McLaughlin, Frederick Hammersley, and Lorser Feitelson. The style came to be also referred to as “California hard-edge;” its creative center being in California during the 1950s and 1960s. Such painting is known for its smooth surfaces, impersonal style, simple forms, and planes of color with hard edges instead of gestural brushstrokes.

June Harwood was influenced by Hard Edge painting early as a student at Syracuse University in New York in the 1950s. In an interview with Los Angeles Modern Auctions (February 2014) the artist said: “The largest movement at the university was Abstract Expressionism, but the instructors I had were more concerned with the classical approach, which led me to Hard Edge painting. We did a lot of paper collages, and of course the concern was balance.” Harwood moved to Los Angeles and continued with painting and collage. She worked at the Los Angeles Art Association, a forum for emerging artists and venue for touring exhibitions founded in 1925, while pursuing a teaching credential. There she met Lorser Feitelson who introduced her to Jules Langsner. In 1964 Harwood's work was included in a Hard Edge exhibition in Newport Beach, CA curated by Langsner, whom she married the following year. Her first major museum exhibition, deemed a critical success, was a solo at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1967. Though younger, Harwood came to be associated with the California Hard Edge painters along with the original four.

Her paintings are harmonious, as she applied what she called a “yin and yang” balance. This balance makes up her definition of Hard Edge painting–wherein color forms are positioned against each other, alternating between being a positive or negative space. Harwood described to LAMA how she felt her paintings involve a kinetic aspect: “It has to do with movement. For the Loop Series, it developed from elliptical guides used by architects . . . I suppose the kinetics came from the loops I drew, but I erased part of the loops . . . you had to jump from one area to the next to complete the surface . . . –none of those lines connect.” Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight also discerned movement in her paintings. In his review of a 2003 retrospective of her work, he wrote, “Following the trajectory of these paintings is rather like watching tectonic plates begin to shift, break apart and slowly bend beneath unseen forces of stoppable pressure–rather like the unfolding decade of the 1960s itself.” 

Harwood first taught art at Hollywood High School from 1958–1970, then was a professor at Los Angeles Valley College from 1972–1994. She continued painting until the year before she died in 2015– she had been the last of the West Coast Hard Edge artists. Harwood’s paintings can be found in many private collections, including at the San Jose Museum of Art; the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the Long Beach Museum of Art. June Harwood’s work continues to receive attention and acclaim in the art world and art market. She was in the exhibition The Los Angeles School, curated by Dave Hickey, at the Otis College of Art and Design, in 2004.

 

“An Exclusive Interview with June Harwood.” LAMA/Los Angeles Modern AuctionsLos Angeles Modern Auctions, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
Colker, David. "Painter June Harwood Dies at 81; Member of 'Hard Edge' Art Movement." Los Angeles Times 8 Jan. 2015, Local/Obituaries sec. Los Angeles Times. Web. 22 May 2015.
Wolf, Justin. "Hard-edge Painting." The Art Story.org./Your Guide to Modern Art. The Art Story Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
“June Harwood: Artist Biography.” Louis Stern Fine Arts. Louis Stern Fine Arts, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
“May 17 Auction Recap: Three World Records!” LAMA/Los Angeles Modern Auctions. Los Angeles Modern Auctions, 20 May 2015. Web. 22 May 2015.

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