An Enduring Relationship

L.A. Louver and Frederick Hammersley

L.A. Louver founder Peter Goulds, a British transplant to the sunny climes of California, established the gallery in 1976, its creative title a result of Goulds’ desire not to attach his own name to, in his own words, “something that might fail”. He took inspiration from the louvered windows he’d lived with in college at UCLA and their similarities to works by Marcel Duchamp (Fresh Widow and The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even). Goulds had first visited Hammersley's studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 1970s and was immediately taken with the artist and his work. Hammersley became one of the initial artist’s added to the gallery's roster and his first of many exhibitions there was held in 1978. 

All four paintings in the present sale were originally acquired from L.A. Louver and three were exhibited in the 2017 retrospective Frederick Hammersley Paintings and Works on Paper, an expansive and immersive show of 98 works spanning the artist’s career. L.A. Louver was instrumental in introducing Hammersley's oeuvre to a broader audience and they continue to represent his work alongside a roster of other important creators including Alison Saar, David Hockney, Ken Price, Dale Chihuly, and Deborah Butterfield.

Abstract Classicist painting is hard-edged painting. Forms are finite, flat, rimmed by a hard clean edge...sufficient unto themselves as shapes.

Jules Langsner

Frederick Hammersley 1919–2009

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Frederick Hammersley took art lessons as a child and went on to study a wide range of artistic pursuits from painting to lettering at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1940–42 and 1946–47 and Jepson Art Institute from 1947–50. Following his service in WWII as an army sergeant he studied at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. While in Paris, he met and visited the studios of Picasso, Brancusi, and Cezanne and it was during this time that he began experimenting with abstract imagery in his own art. Thus began his journey of reducing traditional imagery to simple, flat, colorful shapes.

Hammersley’s experimentation developed into the first of three series that would define his career: his “hunch” paintings. The evolution of a hunch painting began as a shape. Then he intuitively chose a color, after which he would continue adding shapes and colors by “feeling” or “hunch” and leading to finished works that may suggest a subject but remain abstract as a whole. His second series began in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he began creating geometric, hard-edge paintings. Unlike his hunch paintings, Hammersley’s geometric works were thoughtfully planned out in sketchbooks. He planned out the composition and then painted them on the canvas with a palette knife; unlike many of his contemporaries, he never used tape to create hard edges. Hammersley applied equal thought and consideration to the titles of his paintings and kept copious stream-of-consciousness notes full of puns, double entendres, and witty plays on words that would provide the viewer with some verbal insight into his abstract creations.

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Auction Results Frederick Hammersley