Hassel Smith
PSYCHOSEISMORAMA II, 1960
Oil on canvas
172.72 x 176.53 cm
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

HASSEL SMITH MONOGRAPH

Hassel Smith . Paintings 1937-1997

The Estate of Hassel Smith wishes to announce the publication of a monograph on the life work of the artist spanning seven decades, from the late 1930s to the end of the twentieth century.

No previous publication has attempted to represent the true scope of Hassel Smith’s achievement, or to locate the full range of Smith’s work within the broad historical context through which he lived. This book confirms the stature of the artist and fills a significant void in the history of innovative art in the far west of the United States.

A legendary influence within both the northern and southern West Coast milieux of the forties and fifties, Hassel Smith today is a figure paradoxically distanced by history. The monograph retrieves Hassel Smith’s unique significance and continuing relevance - reassessing the paintings, drawings, collages and assemblages of the post-war decades - proposing new interpretations of the artist’s sources and motivations, while revealing the shrouded work of more than three decades, a West Coast painter’s reclusive European journey of outstanding profundity and depth.

The publisher is Prestel Publishing (Munich London New York). The book is distributed in Europe, Britain and USA.

Petra Giloy-Hirtz is the editor of the book, Paul Karlstrom and Susan Landauer co-authors, with supporting essays by Petra Giloy-Hirtz, Robert C. Morgan, Peter Selz and Allan Temko (1975).

Graphic Design, Christian Schmid, büro schmid, Munich

„...there are the West Coast legends Jay DeFeo and Hassel Smith, whose reputations have been as unstable as the Pollock drips and splatters that changed the world. (...) Hassel Smith (1915-2007) presents a bracing lesson for young artists already caught in the snares of an art world that at times has all the depth and subtlety of the red carpet on Oscars night. He was once mentioned along with abstract masters like de Kooning, Kline and Motherwell, then devolved to “West Coast underground legend,” then (kind of) vanished. But he kept working, and it’s the work that endures, as we’re reminded in this book, which examines Smith’s life and art and tries to re-establish his place in American painting. And in works like “A Rose” (1959) and “The Giant Salamander” (1961), Smith surely fits seamlessly.

Finding Beauty in Decay and Math, Art Books from Jay DeFeo, Per Kirkeby and Hassel Smith by Diana Jennings, in: THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 21, 2013, Review of Hassel Smith Paintings 1937-1997, edited by Petra Giloy-Hirtz (with two illustrations)

Seit Mitte der vierziger bis Anfang der fünfziger Jahre war Hassel Smith einer der einflussreichsten Lehrer an der California School of Art (heute San Francisco Art Institute), dem "center of experimental abstraction", zusammen etwa mit Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn und Gastprofessoren wie Mark Rothko oder Ad Reinhardt. Das war die Dekade des abstrakten Expressionismus in der Bay Area nach 1945. In den sechziger Jahre geht Hassel Smith mit seiner Familie nach England, kehrt aber immer wieder nach Kalifornien zurück, als Gastdozent an die University of California in Berkeley, an die University of California in Los Angeles, in Davis oder an das San Francisco Art Institute. In Kalifornien sind auch seine wichtigsten Einzelausstellungen. Vertreten ist er in zahlreichen renommierten Sammlungen wie dem Los Angeles County Museum, dem San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, dem Whitney Museum New York oder der Tate Gallery London.

So ist Hassel Smith bekannt - und zugleich merkwürdig ver-kannt. In Europa war seine Arbeit nie zu sehen mit Ausnahme weniger Ausstellungen in England, wo er bis heute lebt. Der Kunstkritik gilt er als "West Coast underground legend". 1964 beklagt der bekannte Photograph John Coplans in seinem Essay Re-Discovering Hassel Smith in der Mai Ausgabe des Artforum die Vernachlässigung dieses Werkes, für die er das kulturelle Milieu der Westküste - im Gegensatz zu New York - verantwortlich macht. Er spricht enthusiastisch über "Hassel Smith's early, unique and important contributions; the extreme manner, for example, in which he develops the tension at the edge of the canvas ... none of the Eastern Painters, and that goes for Gorky, de Kooning and even Kline, developed it to quite the same extent." Und anläßlich der Retrospektive Hassel Smith: 55 Years of Painting im Sonoma County Museum 2002 fragt Art in America entflammt: "Where is the major survey this fascinating artist deserves?"

Hassel Smiths Malerei ist eine Malerei der Bewegung, voller Dynamik und außerordentlicher Energie, eine Malerei überbordender Farben, gestisch, Pinselstriche all-over, explosiv, sprühend vital. Nahe bei Rhythmus, Musik, Tanz. Kaum vorstellbar: das ist das "Alterswerk" des Künstlers, entstanden Ende der achtziger, Anfang der neunziger Jahre! In unserer Ausstellung "West Coast Painting" zeigen wir Bilder mit ruhigen geschlosseneren Farbfeldern, biomorphe Formen, leicht, transparent, manchmal poetisch, ja geheimnisvoll, die dem Betrachter verschiedenste Assoziationen entlocken. Die organischen Konfigurationen scheinen von außen ins Bild hineinzudringen und von innen über die Bildgrenze hinaus - over the edge - in den Raum hinauszuweisen.

Hassel Smith ist schöpferisch ein langes Künstlerleben. Er erprobt die Möglichkeiten der Malerei: Figuration und geometrische Abstraktion und knüpft dann Mitte der achtziger Jahre an seine frühe Malerei des abstrakten Expressionismus an: mit großer Virtuosität entwickelt er seinen Stil weiter und schafft wunderbare Bilder.

Petra Giloy-Hirtz

Biography

Geboren 1915 in Sturgis, Michigan / USA, gestorben am 2. Januar 2007 in Südengland

1932-1935
Studium der Kunstgeschichte und Englischen Literatur an der Northwestern Universitiy in Evanston, Illinois
1936-38
Studium an der California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (heute San Francisco Art Institute), Meisterschüler von Maurice Sterne
1945-1952
Lehrt an der California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (mit Richard Diebenkorn, Clifford Still; Gastprofessoren: Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt u.a.)
1963-1965
University of California, Berkeley
1965-1966
Art Departement University of California, Los Angeles
1966
Geht nach England
1966-1981
West England College of Art, Bristol/England
1973,1976
University of California, Davis
1977-1978
University of California, Berkeley
1979-1980
University of California, Berkeley
1978-1981
San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco
Exhibitions
1947
University of Oregon Gallery, Eugene
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco (1953)
1949
The Lucian Labaudt Gallery, San Francisco (mit Richard Diebenkorn)
1950
The Lucian Labaudt Gallery, San Francisco
1955
East and West Gallery, San Francisco
King Ubu Gallery, San Francisco
1956
East and West Gallery, San Francisco
New Arts, Houston/Texas ( 1958, 1959, 1961)
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965)
1957
California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (1958, 1959)
1958
Ferrus Gallery, Los Angeles (1959, 1961, 1962)
1959
Reed College, Oregon
1960
Gimpel Fils, London (1963)
1961
Pasadena Art Museum, CA
André Emmerich Gallery, New York (1962, 1963)
1962
Galleria dell' Ariete, Mailand
1964
Gallery Lounge, San Francisco State College, CA
University of Minnesota Art Gallery, Minneapolis
Worth Ryder Gallery, University of California, Berkley, CA
David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1973)
1968
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
1970
Suzanne Saxe Gallery, San Francisco (1973)
1972
Bristol Art Gallery, Bristol, England
1975
San Francisco Museum of Art (H. S. Paintings 1954-1975)
1977
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Fransisco (1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1987)
1978
Atlantic-Richfield Center for Visual Arts, Los Angeles
1981
Oakland Museum (H.S. Selected Works 1945-1981), Oakland, CA
1983
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
1985
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
1987
Blum Helman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1988
Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Monterey, CA
Wiegand Gallery, College of Notre Dame, Belmont/CA
Iannetti-Lanzoni Gallery, San Francisco (1989)
1989
Natsoulas/Novelozo Gallery, Davis/CA
1995
Hartcourts Gallery, San Francisco
1996
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach/CA.
2002
Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa (H.S. 55 Years of Painting)
Fergus Gallery at Gagosian Gallery, New York
2005
Credit Suisse, Palais am Lenbachplatz, München
Galerie Biedermann, München
2011
Bella Pacifica. Bay Area Abstraction, 1946-1963
Nyehaus, David Nolan Gallery, Franklin Parrasch Gallery and Leslie Feely Fine Art, New York City
2012
Galerie Biedermann, München
Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco
2013
333 Montezuma Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Collections
  • Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, TX
  • Los Angeles County Art Museum, CA
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
  • Whitney Museum, New York City, NY
  • Tate Gallery, London
  • Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
  • Houston Museum of Art, TX
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
  • Pasadena Museum of Art, CA
  • Stanford University Museum of Art, CA
Bibliography
  • Hassel Smith . Paintings 1937-1997, edited by Petra Giloy-Hirtz. Paul J. Karlstrom, Susan Landauer (Co-authors) with contributions by Petra Giloy-Hirtz, Robert C. Morgan, Peter Selz, Allan Temko, Prestel Publishing: Munich London New York 2012
  • Hassel Smith, The Pasadena Art Museum, exhibition catalogue, essay by Walter Hopps, 1961
  • In: Suzan Landauer, The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London 1996, S. 254
  • Bruce Nixon, Hassel Smith; published by John Natsoulas Press, Davis/California, 1997
  • Hassel Smith: 55 Years of Painting, Sonoma County Museum, 2003, exhibition catalogue, essay by Peter Selz
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