At first I would paint a shape that I would 'see' there. The next shape would come from the feeling of the first. This process would continue until the last shape completed the picture. The structure-making is of prime importance. Until this is right nothing further can be done. After the picture works in line, the shapes 'become' colors. I answer the hunch as it comes.

Frederick Hammersley

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

FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Dark & like, #23 | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Dark & like, #23

estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $47,500
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, One good turn | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

One good turn

estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $43,750
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Biased #9 | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Biased #9

estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $30,000
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Hot & heavy, #5 | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Hot & heavy, #5

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $25,000
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Family tree, #2 | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Family tree, #2

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $23,750
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Getting Warm (#9) | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Getting Warm (#9)

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $17,500
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Up Down Stick | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Up Down Stick

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $4,063
FREDERICK HAMMERSLEY, Open | wright20.com

Frederick Hammersley

Open

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $3,500