Frederick Hammersley

May 30, 2012

In May 1959, Frederick Hammersley found himself conversing with Lorser Feitelson, Karl Benjamin, and John McLaughlin at Feitelson’s studio in a meeting organized by Pomona College’s art department chair, Peter Selz. These four artists shared a distinctive method of painting similar to early 20th century European geometric abstraction. Their collaboration, a collective unveiling of a new trend in painting, culminated in September of the same year with an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, entitled “Four Abstract Classicists.” One of the youngest of the group, Hammersley had served in World War II and attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. While teaching at Pomona College and the Pasadena Art Museum in the 1950s, he painted using his “hunch” method, an unconscious approach that involved building upon a chosen shape through instinctively matched colors. In the 1960s and 70s, his technique evolved by incorporating preplanned sketches and color arrangements. Two of these resulting Hard Edge compositions, Figure of Speech (1974-75) and Double Vision #12 (1978), exemplify the bold colors and sharp lines that established Hammersley in modern painting vocabulary. While continuing to maintain his striking lines and colors, in the 1980s Hammersley revisited an “organic” style that focused on the interplay of nebulous forms. Enclosed in a wooden frame Hammersley constructed himself, Two for One (1986) is a marriage of his “hunch” method roots and the Hard Edge style that launched his career.

Frederick Hammersley Foundation. Frederick Hammersley Foundation, 2012. Web. 24 March 2012.

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