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F r e d e r i c k H a m m e r s le y


Frederick Hammersley, 1989


Frederick H a m m e r s le y

5 2 5 West 2 2 n d S tr eet N ew Yo r k NY 10 011 tel 212 4 4 5 0 0 51 www . am y- n y c. co m


F r e d e r i c k H a m m e r s le y

In order to grasp Frederick Hammersley’s paintings, you need two hands: one for his “geometrics,” the other for his “organics.” The two bodies of work differ radically—in composition, scale, and feel—but they differ in complementary and mutually enriching ways. Across the frames—minimal for the geometrics, baroque for the organics—and over the years, they speak to each other. Most geometrics are straight-lined and straight-laced. Square in shape and conceived on a nine-square grid, each reflects two decisions: whether or not to introduce a new color and whether or not to introduce a diagonal. These simple choices yield surprising variety—forming rectangles, paral6

lelograms, equilateral triangles, squares, or L-shapes. The organics, by contrast, obey no such rules. Shapes and colors remain neatly segregated in the geometrics, while; they sometimes blend—ravishingly—in the organics. The palette knife he used for the geometrics produces a smooth and gestureless finish; the organics display visible brush strokes. Language mattered to Hammersley. He even maintained that “painting is another form of talking.” So I listened closely to his metaphors. He always referred to the geometrics and organics as “brothers.” Even though one brother might be dressed for church and the other for the playground, he observed one day, they share a common gene pool. Such talk involved more than figures of speech. Hammersley’s language suggests that he imagined shapes and colors as characters playing out graphic dramas. Really, the paintings were this lifelong bachelor’s children. So he personified his abstract pictures, just as he had deeply felt the formal qualities in his early representational work.


In the mid-1960s, after five years of making geometrics, Hammersley felt he had “exhausted his fund.” He took a year off to make organics—not following any Stalinist five-year plan, but prompted by intuition. His subsequent geometrics emerged newly energized. “I felt like I’d been given a big fat paycheck,” he recalled. But what relates the organics to the geometrics more than their fruitful interaction is that common gene pool. And the DNA governing Hammersley’s genes was his unerring intuition. Intuition, what “feels right” or “feels good,” as he put it, determined every mark. Intuition led to pleasure, and pleasure was the mainspring of his oeuvre. Corroboration lies in our sustainable pleasure, in our sense that his shapes—church or playground bound—could not be otherwise arranged, and that his colors belong to those shapes, although not in ways we could have predicted. Arden Reed

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1.  Before & after, #2, 1964


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2.  Alp, #15, 1984


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3.  Thursday, #7, 1984


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4 .  Under water, #14, 1984


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5.  Insist upon, #5, 1987


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6.  Breed apart, #4, 1988


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7.  All in favor, #9, 1991


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8.  Got is love, #1, 1995


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9.  Sea saw, #3, 1966


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10.  Here here, #3, 1975


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11.  Two & fro, #13, 1975


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12.  Dark & like, #23, 1977


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13.  Seem same, #1, 1978


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14 .  Me & thee, #14, 1980


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15.  Turn of mind, #3, 1981


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16.  Double feature, #3, 1994


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17.  Self centered, #4, 1994


P l at e L i s t

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1. Before & after, #2 1964 Oil on panel 26 x 30 inches 66 x 76.2 cm

5. Insist upon, #5 1987 Oil on panel 11 1/8 x 9 1/2 inches 28.3 x 24.1 cm

2. Alp, #15 1984 Oil on panel 9 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches 24.4 x 21.9 cm

6. Breed apart, #4 1988 Oil on panel 16 7/8 x 13 3 /4 inches 42.9 x 34.9 cm

3. Thursday, #7 1984 Oil on panel 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches 29.2 x 39.4 cm

7. All in favor, #9 1991 Oil on linen 11 7/8 x 10 inches 30.2 x 25.4 cm

4. Under water, #14 1984 Oil on panel 11 7/8 x 9 7/8 inches 30.2 x 25.1 cm

8. Got is love, #1 1995 Oil on linen 17 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches 44.5 x 36.8 cm

All dimensions include artist-made frame


9. Sea saw, #3 1966 Oil on linen 44 3 /4 x 44 3 /4 inches 113.7 x 113.7 cm

13. Seem same, #1 1978 Oil on linen 45 7/8 x 45 7/8 inches 116.5 x 116.5 cm

10. Here here, #3 1975 Oil on linen 24 3 /4 x 24 3 /4 inches 62.9 x 62.9 cm

14. Me & thee, #14 1980 Oil on linen 24 7/8 x 24 7/8 inches 63.2 x 63.2 cm

11. Two & fro, #13 1975 Oil on linen 26 3 /4 x 26 3 /4 inches 67.9 x 67.9 cm

15. Turn of mind, #3 1981 Oil on linen 25 x 24 3 /4 inches 63.5 x 62.9 cm

12. Dark & like, #23 1977 Oil on linen 38 1/4 x 38 1/8 inches 97.2 x 96.8 cm

16. Double feature, #3 1994 Oil on linen 20 3 /4 x 20 3 /4 inches 52.7 x 52.7 cm 17. Self centered, #4 1994 Oil on linen 20 3 /4 x 20 3 /4 inches 52.7 x 52.7 cm

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S e l e c t e d P ub l i c C o l l e c t i o n s

Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, New Mexico The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, California The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Denver Art Museum, Colorado Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Oakland Museum of California, California Roswell Museum and Art Center, New Mexico San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Published on the occasion of the exhibition

F r e d e r i c k H a m m e r s le y 5 September – 12 October 2013 Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe 525 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011 tel 212 445 0051  www.amy-nyc.com © 2013 Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe and Frederick Hammersley Foundation All works by Frederick Hammersley All images © Frederick Hammersley Foundation All rights reserved Catalogue designed by Dan Miller Design, New York Printed and bound by Meridian Printing, East Greenwich, Rhode Island Photography of the art by Tom Powel, New York Photograph of the artist by Charles R. Rushton Cover: Sea saw, #3, 1966, Oil on linen, 44 3 /4 x 44 3 /4 inches, 113.7 x 113.7 cm ISBN 978-0-9850184-6-7


Frederick Hammersley Catalogue  

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AMERINGER | McENERY | YOHE is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Frederick Hammersley. The exhibition wi...

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