VIDEO: Blasts of Pleasure with Frederick Hammersley

"[Frederick Hammersley] was this dichotomy to me. He was both left and right-brained, geometric and organic. His paintings actually sum up many so many aspects of who he really was." —Elizabeth East, L.A. Louver

Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) made his mark on art history as a founder of the Abstract Classicist movement, the hard-edged painting style that put West Coast abstraction on the map. Though his breakthrough came with his participation in the groundbreaking 1959 exhibition Four Abstract Classicists, he chose to diverge from the mainstream art world and this signature style, relocating from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1968 and experimenting with approaches and mediums throughout his long career. Hammersley moved freely between printmaking, sculpture, and computer art while maintaining steady practices in figure drawing and photography—all of which are highlighted in BAMPFA's survey of the artist, Looking: The Art of Frederick Hammersley



In this short documentary, friends and art world figures reflect on Hammersley's lifelong passion for art and experimentation. Art historian Bill Peterson recalls: "Throughout his life, he emphasized this thing of pleasure; he felt that was really the essence of art." Collectively, Hammersley's varied body of work, whether intuitive "hunch" paintings or systematic computer drawings, serves as a refreshing reminder of what happens when artists make art and enjoy the process.


Slow down and enjoy Hammersley’s work in Looking, which is on view through June 23.