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 William Hemmerdinger  (1951 - )

About: William Hemmerdinger


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Lived/Active: California/Massachusetts      Known for: abstract painting, sculpture, printmaking, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Hemmerdinger Biography  -- Submitted by the artist’s studio

“William Hemmerdinger is a serious modern painter building upon and expanding a vocabulary of abstract imagery begun in the 1970s.” -- Marlena Donohue, Los Angeles Times

A painter, sculptor, printmaker, he has works in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California; National Library of Canada, Ottawa; Mobil Oil, New York; Barbara Hepworth Museum, St. Ives, England.

He is the author of art research, catalog essays and art reviews. Hemmerdinger earned an MFA and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University and teaches at the Boston Architectural College.

William Hemmerdinger is a modernist artist from Los Angeles. Initially associated with the California Watercolor Society in the late 1960s. He was encouraged to explore and innovate by the painters Karl Benjamin, Rex Brandt, Gerald Brommer, Paul Darrow, Richard Diebenkorn, Phil Dike, Connor Everts, Lorser Feitelson, Lloyd Harting, Peter Krasnow, Matsumi Kanemitsu, Millard Sheets, and Los Angeles Times art critic Henry J. Seldis.

He studied Asian brush painting with J. Ma Leung, plus design and sculptural wood-carving with Hovak Najarian. He completed undergraduate training at UC Riverside having studied art, architecture, art history and Asian languages. Upon graduation he received awards in art and architecture, plus a fellowship to study Chinese art history and language.

His travel in Asia included a residency in a Rinzai sect Zen Buddhist monastery in Kyoto and a stay at a Shinto temple. He formed friendships with members of the Fifth Moon Group (Fong Chung-ray and Liu Kuo-sung), Running Rain Group, plus other Contemporary Asian art movements including painter / activist Hideo Sakata and printmaker Bong Tae Kim. (Catalogs, correspondence and other items related to this period are now archived at the Getty Research Institute). On return to the United States Hemmerdinger attended Claremont Graduate School to study with painter / sculptor Roland Reiss.

At Claremont he achieved a personal breakthrough with a group of paintings employing automatic writing and Asian calligraphy entitled Mojave Sand Series, 1974 (M.M. Shinno Gallery, Los Angeles, Jackson Street Gallery, Seattle, Double Vision Gallery, Los Angeles).

This was followed in 1975 – 1976 by Manuscripts & Palimpsests Series (The Point Gallery, Venice, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Long Beach Museum of Art)

Collage Series
1978 -1979; (Jan Baum -- Iris Silverman Gallery, Santa Monica; Boyusan Citizen’s Hall, Pusan, Korea); Cotuit Oyster Series (Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles; Aeropress, New York, Long Beach Museum of Art)

1981 – 1983; Biblioteca Laurenziana (Brand Library Art Center, Glendale, Double Vision Gallery, Los Angeles),

1986- 1991; Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris  (Lela Terakoya, Los Angeles; Coppersmith & Rivers, New York)

1989 – 1992 ; Tunisian Bazaar (Nagasaki-ken Museum of Art, Nagasaki, Japan; Pyong-Taek Art Museum, Pyong-Taek, Korea),

1989 – 1997 Assemblage (L.A. Artcore, Los Angeles; Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown)

1999 – 2006;  Lexicon Series  (Plaza Hotel, New York, Thomas Moser, Cabinetmakers, Boston)

2005 – 2012; Last Lights 2012 – present.

California Watercolor Society, 1970
American Watercolor Society, 1972
National Academy of Design, 1972
California Watercolor Society Award for Drawing, 1974
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1977
Robert M. Bocchi Award, California Watercolor Society, 1979
Jan Baum –Iris Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, 1979
Barbara Hepworth Museum, St. Ives, Cornwall, England, 1980
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1981
Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, 1982 (solo), 1984 (solo)
Coppersmith & Rivers, New York, 1987, (solo), 1995, (solo)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1995
Julia and David White Artist’s Colony, Costa Rica, 1999
Double Vision Gallery, Los Angeles, 2001 (solo)
Atelier Grognard, Paris, France, 2003
L.A. Artcore, Los Angeles, 2003 (solo)
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2004
Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, MA 2006, (solo)
Thomas Moser, Cabinetmakers, Boston, 2007 (solo)
Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, 2011,
The Studio on Slough Road, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2011, (solo) 
Long Beach Museum of Art, 2012
Lela Terakoya, Los Angeles, 2012

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Barbara Hepworth Museum, St. Ives, Cornwall, England (Tate Modern)
National Library of Canada, Ottawa
Mobil Oil, New York
Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea
Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia
Shelburne Hotel, New York
Surrey Hotel, New York
Plaza Hotel, New York
Via Novelli, Italy

California Watercolor Society (1971-1996)

Listed / References:
Patricia Pate-Havlice, Index of Artistic Biography
Mantle Fielding (Creps) Dictionary of American, Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
Who’s Who in American Art, 1980 - present
New York Art Review
California Art Review
catalog, Los Angeles Abstract Painting, University of New Mexico, 1979
catalog Abstract Painting from Southern California, University of Akron, 1977
catalog, A Southern California Collection, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles 1987
catalog, The Art Collection, Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco, 1987
catalog, Harbingers: California Watercolor Society, Robert Perine, Artras Press, 1983
catalog, William Hemmerdinger at The Studio on Slough Road, 2011


In a review of the exhibition “Four Claremont Painters” the art critic Timothy App wrote: “Hemmerdinger’s private calligraphic marks act as a sign system by which one can traverse opaque regions. His use of color is like the low, deep pitch of a primitive horn, but, it is not inaccessible to the undistracted participant.” -- Timothy App, Artweek, 1975

“As an artist he makes the point that spirit, the will to shatter physical boundaries, remains the essence and driving force behind art.” -- Michael Zakian, Ph.D., The Dialectic of Place, 1998

“Beautifully delicate watercolors . . . partly amorphic, partly calligraphic, and somewhat geometric. Hemmerdinger’s motile, mystical works appear . . . utterly ephemeral, atmospheric and elusive.” -- Janet Kutner, Dallas Morning News, 1973

“Hemmerdinger’s paintings are executed on newsprint – actual newspapers – whose printed messages are gradually obscured by several layers of over-painting, using acrylic, watercolor and rhoplex.  Applied in thin layers, these materials are variously translucent, creating a shallow, ambiguous space. The basically vertical and horizontal marks on the surface are expressionistic in style – loose and gestural, but, nonetheless evoking a sensed order. Hemmerdinger, who can speak, read and write Mandarin, says his marks are a combination of Chinese and Japanese scripts which result in his own calligraphy. The layered marks and personalized Oriental calligraphy, executed on top of the western newspaper, amount to an amalgamation of human communication, both verbal and visual, over a period of time, as suggested by one of his titles, Palimpsest.“  -- Melinda Wortz, Los Angeles, Abstract Painting, 1979

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