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Huntington acquires works by Tony Smith and Frederick Hammersley

December 17, 2013|By Deborah Vankin
  • A 1960 untitled work by Tony Smith, above, is among the works acquired by the Huntington for a gallery space to be devoted to geometric abstraction and pop art.
A 1960 untitled work by Tony Smith, above, is among the works acquired by… (Tony Smith Estate / Huntington )

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens has acquired works to fill a gallery space set to open in July 2014 that will be devoted to geometric abstraction and pop art.

Made possible by an anonymous donation, two of the works are by the late minimalist, Tony Smith. “For W.A.” is an 1969 abstract bronze sculpture in two parts, each a five-foot-high “rhombic prism,” as the Huntington calls the dark, velvety-looking blocks. The other Smith work, untitled, is an abstract oil on canvas, in deep green and red tones, that the artist made in 1960.

With the donation the Huntington also acquired a 1966 work by American abstract painter, the late Frederick Hammersley, who was part of the 1959 exhibition “Four Abstract Classicists” along with Lorser Feitelson, John McLaughlin and Karl Benjamin.

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“By adding to our collections these bold and significant works by key figures of the postwar American art scene, we’re standing by our commitment to tell a full, rich story about the history of art in this country in our galleries,” said Kevin Salatino, the Huntington’s director of art collections. “I particularly look forward to visitors’ reactions when they encounter works of art not usually associated with the Huntington’s collections.”

This fall, the Huntington was either given or purchased additional works of art, including a circa-1930 crayon drawing by Henrietta Shore called “Cypress Tree, Point Lobos” as well as a 1935 woodcut by African-American artist Hale Woodruff, “Shanty Town,” and a 1926 terra cotta work by Jo Davidson, “Mask of Elizabeth Laroque.”

The new 5,400-square-foot space will be located in the Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. The anonymous donation stipulated that it be used for acquisitions of American art from about 1945 to 1980 in memory of Robert Shapazian.


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Twitter: @debvankin


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