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Hammond, Semmel

Hammond, Semmel: Garth Greenan
June 23 – August 12, 2016
Image: Semmel, Red White and Blue, 1973, detail

Harmony Hammond and Joan Semmel included in the exhibition Skins: Body as Matter and Process, at Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Garth Greenan Gallery presents Skins: Body as Matter and Process, a group exhibition curated by Alison Dillulio. The exhibition features a selection of works, mostly from the 1970s, that evoke the human body–both literally and metaphorically. The artists included are: Lynda Benglis, Mary Beth Edelson, Harmony Hammond, Ralph Humphrey, Kiki Kogelnik, Howardena Pindell, Zilia Sánchez, Joan Semmel, Richard Van Buren, and Hannah Wilke.

During the 1970s, second-wave feminism fostered a climate of unparalleled artistic innovation. As Lucy Lippard wrote, “the goal of feminism is to change the character of art.” The artists included in this exhibition furthered this mission by abandoning traditional art-making practices in favor of new modes of representation. They resisted preexisting patriarchal constructs by challenging the definition of painting and sculpture and reintegrating a palpable sense of self into their work.

According to art historian Lynda Nead, art of this period “broke open the boundaries of representation….to reveal the body as matter and process, as opposed to form and stasis.”

The featured artists cut, tear, stretch, throw, break apart, and reconstruct materials in their deeply personal and physically charged works. They reference the body in their exploration of processes, materials, and subject matter—an endeavor that offers viewers new perspectives on all forms, human and otherwise. Joan Semmel and Hannah Wilke use explicit sexual imagery to reveal intimate feelings about sexuality and female fantasies. Mary Beth Edelson’s documentation of her own ritual performances recontextualizes the female body by referencing a pre-art historical era. Harmony Hammond and Howardena Pindell reappropriate traditional feminine practices such as weaving and sewing in their heavily textured, skin-like paintings. Ralph Humphrey’s densely layered constructions convey a sense of containment, both physical and emotional. Kiki Kogelnik and Zilia Sánchez use seriality and repetition to create stylized abstractions that are carefully controlled yet surprisingly erotic. Lynda Benglis and Richard Van Buren manipulate unconventional, non-art materials to emphasize the organic, bodily process of art making. All of these artists’ singular achievements continue to shape our contemporary art history.