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Frederick Hammersley

(1919 - 2009)
Hammersley first gained critical recognition in 1959 as one of the "Four Abstract Classicists" along with Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, and John McLaughlin, whose work was featured in an exhibition of the same name, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and traveling to the San Franciso Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland. The critic Jules Langsner, writing for the catalogue, is credited with coining the term "hard-edge" painting as a description of the artists' use of flat, colored shapes applied to the canvas with sharply delineated edges.

Since 1950 Hammersley had been exploring his "hunch" method of creating paintings and drawings by starting with a shape for which he intuitively chose a color and then proceeded to complete the work by adding shapes and colors by "feeling," or "hunch." In 1959 he transitioned from the "hunch" to the "geometric" or "hard edge" paintings which evolved from preplanned compositions and color schemes tried out in sketchbooks. The first phase of "organic" paintings, which he also called "organic hunch" paintings—composed of curving, hand-drawn shapes outlined in pencil and filled in with mostly flat unmodulated color—lasted only from 1963-65 during which time he also cut up "organic" compositions and reassembled them into a grid format.