Charles Christopher Hill Recent Works, 1973 Give â€˜Em a Little Bonjour, 2014
Cirrus 1973; 2014
Charles Christopher Hill, Cirrus Gallery, December 1973 Andrea Joki
Charles Christopher Hill’s 1973 solo exhibition at Cirrus Gallery marked the beginning of his long relationship with the gallery. A native of Pennsylvania, Hill was born in 1948 in Greensburg and moved west to attend the University of California Irvine receiving his Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts in 1971 and 1973, respectively.
“junking of established values, the predilection for experimentation and an almost family-like conception of inter artist relationships.”1 New artistic styles emerged including assemblage with artists Kienholz and Berman, a West Coast minimalism in the works of Irwin, Bell and Kaufman, and the unique conceptual languages of Ruscha and John Baldessari.
Hill’s arrival at UC Irvine in the late 1960s coincided with dynamic artistic developments unique to Southern California. Los Angeles became a hot-bed of creativity influenced in part by the earlier Beat Generation, the alternative art scene from San Francisco coming down to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, and also the rise of the Ferus Gallery with a roster of visionary artists including Edward Kienholz, Wallace Berman, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, Ed Moses and others. The co-founder of Ferus Gallery, Walter Hopps, went on to direct the Pasadena Art Museum, and in 1963 organized the historically significant retrospective of the works of Marcel Duchamp.
As the cultural landscape flourished, by the late 1960s West Coast art schools, including UC Irvine, began to reinforce the region’s unique position as a propagator of new conceptual art forms. These schools recruited top talents with many of the leading artists in Southern California accepting academic positions and playing important roles in educating the next generation of artists. Notably, during Hill’s student years at UC Irvine the roster included at one time or another: University Art Gallery director John Coplan (writer/editor for Artforum), Philip Leider (editor in chief of Artforum, 1962-1971); art historians Alan Solomon and Barbara Rose; and artists Tony DeLap, John McCracken, Vija Celmins, Robert Irwin, John Mason and Ed Moses.2
The mid 1960s saw Southern California artists mining rich new terrain and producing works that embodied the ideals of a rapidly changing cultural landscape. In her essay, Experimental City, Catherine Grenier describes this unique landscape as one defined by the
Following his graduation from UC Irvine, Hill emerged on the Los Angeles art scene with his first solo exhibition, “Recent Works,” at Cirrus Gallery, exhibiting eight unstretched paintings and seven works on paper presented under glass. The
Untitled 1973, Stitched and layered paper, muslin and cheesecloth 52â€? x 55â€?
large unframed works, rectangular and horizontal in format, hang on the wall like old maps. The works have irregular edges and range in size with the largest at 81”h x 103”w to the nearly square 53”h x 52”w. Each piece is made of thin fabrics and layers of delicate papers that have been sandwiched together and fixed with running stitches of thread. Hill’s rigorous abstractions on layered papers reveal his interest at the time in processes associated with “soft painting,” processes that cast aside western traditional techniques of painting. Instead, Hill constructs paintings and drawings with ephemeral materials including thin gauze fabrics, delicate newsprint papers, sewing thread and pigments. Additionally, Hill engages a
Untitled 1973 Stitched and Layered Paper, Muslin, Cheesecloth 54” x 68”
unique reductive process of burying his papers in compost piles, allowing them to break down and to acquire colorations from the alchemy of decomposing vegetation. In “Paintings from Compost,” a December 1974 Artweek article by Sandy Ballatore, Hill describes the discovery of his process: “I always had a garden. I had done a lot of paintings that were just junk, so
I took them out in the garden and threw them on the compost to hold in the heat to rot the vegetables. While they were out there, they began to look pretty fine. I realized that if they were actually under the compost, they would go even faster. “I don’t actually bury them in the ground. They’re buried in decomposing kitchen scraps, garbage, plants and lawn clippings, etc. Some pieces I actually buried in the soil, but they just got grey without any sort of colors.” 3 Hill’s experimental strategies recall archeological digs. His works are repeatedly excavated and reburied in compost until they have acquired the colorations and fragile surfaces that he desires. At times, the resultant works have the appearance of wellworn maps or tattered flags as the artist exploits natural degradations in creating rich layers of topographic information. Hill intuitively reacts to the chance marks and abrasions by adding new layers of visual information, including wide bands of applied color in shades of golden yellow, plum or indigo blue, and dense networks of stitched lines. In some works, the stitched lines are of the same hue as the earthy patina of the paper, adding to the subtle and complex array of surface variations. In others, stitched lines of bold color, including red, green or blue, are used as elements in a geometric composition like that of a quilt. A powerful effect of Hill’s work – with the distressed surfaces, tattered edges, muted colors and stitchery – is its evocation of time as each piece echoes a mysterious past, like an artifact uncovered from some long forgotten settlement. A sense of mystery also arises from the materials embedded in Hill’s compositions. Upon close examination, one may
Untitled 1973, Stitched and layered paper, muslin 103â€? x 73â€?
notice fragments of newspapers with Chinese characters or data from the financial pages. Depending on a viewer’s linguistic or financial literacy, these elements either convey particular meaning or simply read as part of the painter’s palette. It’s clear that mystery spurs research, and thorough research and writing are the cornerstones of passing knowledge from one generation to the next. With an illustrious international career, Hill continues to live and work in Los Angeles. The opportunity to interview Hill would most definitely provide valuable insights to his inspirations, his practice, and his artistic evolution. (Several attempts were made to connect with Hill by telephone, email and through his gallery during the writing of this essay.) Fortunately, Ballatore’s 1974 article includes a few statements by Hill as a young artist that reveal his own collector’s mentality at the time and his taste for objects with a sense of history: “I don’t like new things. I don’t have a new car. I don’t like new clothes. I like things that look like they’ve been around for awhile, but have been taken care of. I never throw anything away. I collect clothes. I buy something I really like and never wear it.”4 When placing Hill’s work in an American art historical context, a tendency might be to trace a lineage to 1950s New York artists like Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock with an “over-all” style or 1960s artist Eva Hess with her more emotionally charged postminimalist works. However, Hill’s works should also be interpreted within the context of the cultural landscape of southern California and in light of other important Los Angeles artists, especially Ed Moses – Hill’s mentor and friend. In reviewing several exhibitions related to the Getty Center’s “Pacific Standard Time,” New York Times art critic Roberta Smith comments on the “narrowing and ordering of the historicizing process,” one that for decades imposed a New York-centric narrative on post-war
American art history.5 Hill’s work is better understood within the tableau of significant artistic developments unique to southern California, beginning with his early education at UC Irvine and continuing as a mature artist contributing and responding to the dynamic cultural landscape of Los Angeles. Cirrus Gallery’s 1973 exhibition of Hill’s evocative works is a notable marker in the artists early career, one that links him to a lineage of Angeleno artists known for experimentation, innovation and a distinct disregard for traditional rules about artmaking. Hill draws from significant art historical contexts and regional influences in developing his own unique visual language. With a heightened sensitivity to materials and process, and a clear joy in experimentation, Hill makes his mark with works that continue to delight as relics from an elusive past.
Untitled , 1973 Silkscreen ritt dye & stitched and layered newsprint Edition of 50 23 1/2” x 32”
Anguila ,1973 Stitched and layered paper, muslin and cheesecloth 63â€? x 86â€?
Maricon 1973, Stitched and layered paper, muslin and cheesecloth, 56â€? x 70â€?
Untitled, 1973 Stitched and layered paper, muslin 24â€? x 29â€?
Untitled, 1973, Stitched and layered paper 53” x 52”
Untitled 1973 Stitched and layered paper 25 1/2” x 35”
Untitled 1973 Stitched and layered paper, muslin, 53â€? x 69â€?
Untitled 1973, Stitched and layered paper, muslin and cheesecloth, 73â€? x 103â€?
Untitled, 1973 Stitched and layered paper, muslin 53â€? x 67â€?
Untitled, 1973 Stitched and layered paper, muslin, cheesecloth 24” x 29”
1. Catherine Grenier, “Experimental City,” Catalog L.A. Birth of an Art Capital 19551985, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006, p.17. 2. Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971, exhibition, Laguna Art Museum, October 2011. 3. Sandy Ballatore, “Paintings from Compost,” Artweek, December 21, 1974. 4. Ibid. 5. Roberta Smith, “A New Pin On the Art Map,” The New York Times, November 13, 2011.
Grover Babcock, Jeff Defalque and Amy Gerber, “Made in L.A.: The Prints of Cirrus Edition,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996. Sandy Ballatore, “Paintings from Compost,” Artweek, December 21, 1974. Catalog L.A. Birth of an Art Capital 1955-1985, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006. Cirrus Gallery, exhibition archives and ephemera, Los Angeles. Morgan Neville, “The Cool School: The Story of the Ferus Art Gallery,” Arthouse Films, New York, 2007. Roberta Smith, “A New Pin On the Art Map: The Sprawling Exhibitions Of ‘Pacific Standard Time’ Show California’s Abundance,” The New York Times, November 13, 2011.
CHARLES CHRISTOPHER HILL 1948 Born in Greensburg, PA EDUCATION 1973 University of California, Irvine, M.F.A. 1971 University of California, Irvine, BA SOLO EXHIBITIONS: SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS: 1973 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1973 Galerie Krebs, Bern, Switzerland 1972 Newspace Gallery, Newport Beach, CA SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS: 1973 Art Museum Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA "Market Street Program," Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, CA Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Six From Newspace," California State University, Fullerton, CA 1972 University of California, Irvine, CA Art Museum Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA Jack Glenn Gallery, Corona Del Mar, CA Newark Art Museum, Newark, NJ
Charles Christopher Hill Give â€˜Em a Little Bonjour
March 8 - May 3, 2014 542 S. Alameda Street Los Angeles, CA 90013
Charles Christopher Hill: Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour March 8 - May 3, 2014 Opening reception: Saturday, March 8, 6 - 8pm
Charles Christopher Hill, Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour, 1976 Cloth, cheesecloth and paper, 79” x 115”
Cirrus Gallery is very pleased to present Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour, an exhibition of seminal works from the 1970s by Charles Christopher Hill. While some of the pieces in the exhibition have never been exhibited, this will be the first comprehensive look at the work Hill produced during this period. The show will be open from March 8 and will run through May 3, with a reception from 6 - 8pm on Saturday, March 8. Charles Hill was an important figure in post-minimalist art in Southern California whose dilapidated and distressed surfaces from the 70s helped redefine painting in Los Angeles. Having received both is BA and MFA under the guidance of Vija Celmins, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin, and Ed Moses in the late 60s and early 70s, Hill was greatly influenced by his time at the University of California,Irvine. He and peers Chris Burden, Alexis Smith, and Barbara Smith helped distinguish the university as a hub for experimentation and a landmark in the development of Southern California art. In a move from hard-edged abstraction, Hill became interested in both the physical and aesthe¬tic quality of newsprint, and the purposeful transformation of throw-away materials. He began stitching paper, cheesecloth and rags, only to see them buried in compost for several days. The result of this reductive process was a subliminal deconstruction of the act of painting; an act which was to be further reinforced by Paul McCarthy’s 1995 video, Painter, and one that was also shared by fellow artists Karen Carson, Ed Moses, Jay McCafferty, Allan McCollum, Robert Overby, Peter Plagens and Tom
Wudl. These artists helped situate the unstretched works among a dialogue of other West Coast artists, such as the Fetish Finish and Light and Space artists, who similarly sought to challenge both the art market and the act of painting. Charles Hill’s concerns echoed in many ways those of the Supports/ Surfaces movement in the South of France. In 1977, Dr. Jean-Luc Bordeaux of Cal State Northridge and Jean-Francois de Canchy and Alfred Pacquement of the Centre Pompidou curated a show, Unstretched Surfaces. The exhibition, which was proposed by Peter Plagens and Robert Smith, paralleled both the social and material concerns of several LA artists to those of their French counterparts. The exhibition took place at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art and likened Hill’s work to that of Daniel Dezeuze and Jean-Pierre Pinceman. Much of the material interests of the Supports/Surfaces and LA based artists from the late 60s and 70s are still witnessed today. Whether it’s by means of nature’s alchemy or the digital process, artists continue to evade the conventions of painting. As the exhibition title suggests, Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour can be seen as a timely look at the foundations of the current influx of material-driven abstraction, as practiced by young artists today. Charles Hill was born in Pennsylvania and currently resides in Los Angeles. He has shown at Cirrus Gallery, Baudoin Lebon, Galerie Krebs, Centre d’action Culturelle de Saint Brieuc, Galleria Del Cavallino, and Leslie Sacks. His work can be found in a number of private collections as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, TotalContemporaryArt Museum, in Seoul, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Wien, Austria and the Musée des Beaux Arts in Angers, France.
Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour, 1976 Stitched and layered cloth, cheesecloth & paper 79” x 115”
Give â€˜Em a Little Bonjour Installation shot
Tania, 1973 Sewn paper and fabric 89” x 108”
Lesbian Action Film, 1975 Stitched and layered paper 39” x 23”
Kwaquiutl, 1976 Stitched and layered paper 77” x 100”
Nameless, 1971 Sewn and stitched muslin 72” x 96”
Untitled (June), 1973 Sewn paper and fabric 73” x 105”
Untitled, 1971 Sewn paper and fabric 102” x 148”
Give â€˜Em a Little Bonjour Installation
MPC-PT, 1971 Stitched and layered paper & fabric 107” x 115”
Untitled, 1971 Sewn paper and fabric 102” x 148”
Cinco de Mayo, 1974 Stitched and layered paper 19” x 23”
Trouble at the Cup, 1977 Sewn paper and fabric 65 1/2” x 73”
Before Victoria, 1975 Stitched newsprint and cloth 42” x 44”
Before Victoria (detail)
Charles Hill: Paintings from Compost, 1974 By Sandy Ballatore
Charles Christopher Hill Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 1948 Lives and works in Venice, CA Education East Los Angeles College, A.A.,1966-1969 University of California, Irvine, M.F.A., B.A. 1969-1973 Solo Exhibitions 2012 “Charles Hill Group Show” Leslie Sacks Contemporary, Santa Monica, California 2011 “5X5” Leslie Sacks Contemporary, Santa Monica, California 2010 “Ideomorphs” 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado 2009 212 Gallery, Aspen ‘Suivez la Ligne’ Galerie Andreas Bruning, Dusseldorf 2008 ‘Varnished Truth’, 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado ‘Charles Christopher Hill – Survey’, 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado Rocket Gallery, London, England Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Los Angeles, California 2005 Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France 2004 “Spirals, Dots, and Lines”, Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica Rocket Gallery, London 2003 Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica, California 2002 Andreas Brüning, Düsseldorf, Germany Rocket Gallery, London, England 2000 Brüning+Zischke, Düsseldorf, Germany 1999 Rocket Gallery, London, England 1997 Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France 1996 Rocket Gallery, London, England 1995 Steven Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles Simon Lowinsky Gallery, New York 1993
lâ€™Espace Champagne, Reims, France 1992 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1991 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France 1988 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles Galleria Del Cavalino, Venice, Italy 1987 Centre dâ€™action Culturelle de Saint Brieuc, France Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1985 Galleria Del Cavallino, Venice, Italy Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France 1984 DBR Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1983 Van Straaten Gallery, Chicago Abbaye Saint Andre, Meymac, France Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1982 Galerie Krebs, Bern, Switzerland Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France Galerie Maurer, Zurich, Switzerland 1981 Simon Lowinsky Gallery, San Francisco Galerie Maurer, Zurich Switzerland 1980 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada Galerie Maurer, Zurich, Switzerland 1978 Simon Lowinsky Gallery, San Francisco 1977 Fiberworks, Berkeley, California Galerie Krebs, Bern, Switzerland Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland 1976 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles Galerie Maurer, Zurich, Switzerland Stevenson & Palluel, Paris, France 1975 Galleria Del Cavallino, Venice, Italy
Galerie Arp, Paris, France Galerie Krebs, Bern, Switzerland 1974 Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1973 Galerie Krebs, Bern, Switzerland Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1972 Newspace Gallery, Newport Beach, California Group Exhibitions 2012 “California Abstract Painting 1952-2011”, Woodbury University, Burbank,California Charles Christopher Hill-Francis Limerat, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France 2011 Charles Christopher Hill-Francis Limerat, Galerie Kandler, Toulouse, France “Under the Big Black Sun”, California Art 1974-1981, MOCA, Los Angeles, California “Best Kept Secret”, UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California 1964-1971, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California “Framing Abstraction: Mark, Symbol, Signifier” Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery “Proof:The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California”, Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, California 2010 “Outside the Box”, Edition Jacob Samuel, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California 2007 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado Charles Christopher Hill-Francis Limerat, Domaine de Lescombes, Eysines, France ‘Driven to Abstraction’, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California “Good to Go”, Newspace Gallery, Los Angeles, California “L.A Minimalism Today”, Gallery C, Hermosa Beach, California 2004 Galerie Andreas Brüning, Düsseldorf, Germany 2003 “The Art of Paint”, Gallery C, Hermosa Beach, California “Circular”, Rocket Gallery, London “As Long As It Takes”, Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London “d’ailleurs”, Abbaye du Ronceray, Angers, France 2002 “As Long As It Takes”, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, England
2000 “Made in California”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art “Abstraction: Form to Field”, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, Oregon 1998 “LA Cool”, Rocket Gallery, London, England 1995 William Turner Gallery, Venice, CA Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, “Subtle Voices” 1993 The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, “The First Five Years” Henry Bussière, Paris, France , Signes & Formes “ Regards Croises” 1991 The Works Gallery, Long Beach , California 1988 Galerie Nicole Dortindeguey, Anduze, France, “Le Bambou” 1987 ISD Interiors, Los Angeles, California, “Multi Media Abstract Art” Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Michigan ,” The Cutting Edge, New Directions in Handmade Paper” Traveling through 1989 1986 The Maryland Institute, College of Art, “Artists/Printmakers” Bullocks Department Stores, Beverly Center, Los Angeles, “Los Angeles Artists Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, “A Southern California Collection” 1985 University of Southern California,”Sunshine and Shadow” Galerie Amak, Berlin ,Germany, “Spectrum Los Angeles” Gallery at the Plaza, Security Pacific Bank, Los Angeles, “Contemporary Monotypes” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, N.Y., “American Abstaction, Four Currents” 1983 Hunsaker/Schlesinger, Los Angeles, CA “Four From Cirrus Editions”, The Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, California “Of, On, or About Paper II”, USA Today, Arlington VA. 1982 “Drawings by Painters”, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA. “Five Artists From The Cirrus Gallery”, Galleria Del Cavallino, Venice, Italy “New American Paperworks”, World Print Council, San Francisco, CA “Fifteen Los Angeles Artists”, Gallery Scope, Los Angeles,CA 1981 “Los Angeles Printmakers 1973-1980: Part II”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA “Forty Famous Californians”, Judith Christian Gallery, New York, NY Public Collections
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, Los Angeles, CA Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France Total Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul, Korea Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers, France Awards 1992 National Endowment for the Arts 1976 New Talent , Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California National Endowment for the Arts, Washigton, D.C. Mention Speciales du Jury, VIII Festival International de la Peinture, Cagnes Sur Mer, France Residencies 1994 Eklisia, Gümüslük, Turkey 1993 Cité International Des Arts, Paris, France Chateau de La Napoule, La Napoule, France Teaching 1981 University Of California, Los Angeles, California 1979 Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, Department of Education 1978 Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California Artist Books 1994 Christopher Hill & John Yau, Mon Alias Mona Lisa (1994) published by Collectif Génération, Colombes, France 1989 Charles Christopher Hill & Kristine McKenna, The Smells of Summer (1989), published by Jacob Samuel, Santa Monica, California
Charles Christopher Hill: Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour March 8 - May 3, 2014 Opening reception: March 8, 6-8pm
Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour, 1976 Stitched and layered cloth, cheesecloth & paper 79” x 115” $65,000
Tania, 1973 Sewn paper and fabric 89” x 108” $65,000
Untitled, 1971 Sewn paper and fabric 102” x 148” $75,000
Untitled (June), 1973 Sewn paper and fabric 73” x 105” $65,000
Copyright Cirrus Gallery ÂŠ 2014
Cirrus 1973; 2014
cirrus gallery ÂŠ 2014
Charles Christopher Hill Recent works, 1973 Give 'Em a Little Bonjour, 2014 Catalogue Cirrus