Hendler Painting: The Meaningful Experience

Untitled drawing (1962) 19x26

Raymond Hendler 1969 quote

Raymond Hendler (1923-1998) was a first generation, action painter, whose mature work began in post-war Paris, in 1949. There via the G.I. Bill, he immersed himself in the ferment of the West Bank, forming close friendships with the Canadian taschist painter, Jean Paul Riopelle, and the pre-eminent Australian sculptor, Robert Klippel. He studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, exhibited at the Musee D'Art Moderne and was a founding member of Galerie Huit, the first American cooperative gallery in Europe.

Returning to the United States in 1951, he became active in the burgeoning New York art scene. There he would join an emerging vanguard whose paintings and ideas formed the basis for the movement now commonly referred to as abstract expressionism. He was a voting member of the New York Artists Club from 1951 until its end in 1957. He participated in numerous exhibitions including the historic Stable Invitational of 1952 and was represented by the Rose Fried Gallery during the 1960s. A close, ten-year friendship with the painter, Franz Kline, would significantly inform his work.

"Since first I saw Hendler's paintings in 1952 they have developed into a larger simpler form arriving at a personally abstract image controlled within a painted space. The direct austere design and color complexes paint the image without undue nuances-with clarity and mature independence."

Franz Kline, 1961

"Raymond Hendler exhibited a group of abstract paintings that displayed rare high spirits. Using a great deal of fresh white, Hendler devised extremely simple symbols which he dispersed felicitously on his shining grounds. These bright, often linear hieroglyphs serve both as pictorial animators-they often flow in winding patterns or like fluent handwriting-and as references to the plentitude of the artist's existence. Gardens and sky and human joy are read in these exceedingly compressed forms."

Dore Ashton, 1964


Raymond's was an art deeply spiritual at its source - transcending all artificial barriers of time, geography and culture. He viewed his activity in the studio as a ritual of self transformation - paint and canvas; a vehicle for self realization - the image; the product of profound personal development. With its common roots in the use of the automatic and the unconscious, coupled with his concept of 'further choice' and a commitment to a hard edge - he took gestural abstraction in a direction unique among his contemporaries.

Raymond Hendler will be included in the September 2020 exhibition at the Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia, PA, Group '55 and Mid-century Modernism in Philadelphia. Hendler was a co-founder of Group '55 and will also be featured in the catalog for the exhibition that opens January 21, 2020 at University of the Arts, Rosenwald/Wolf Gallery, Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde, which will highlight and explore Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual culture in the 1950s through the 1970s in an exhibition, a publication, and performances.

In 1952 this native son established the first avant-garde gallery in Philadelphia. He exhibited: Paul Émile Borduas, Willem de Kooning, Sam Feinstein, Philip Guston, A.P. Hankins, Hugh Kappel, Robert Keyser, Franz Kline, George McNeil, Albert Newbill, Dimitri Petrov, Jackson Pollock, Melville Price, Ludwig Sander, Milton Resnick and Jack Tworkov. He introduced to America work by friends made in Paris: Sam Francis, Sanford Greenberg, Shirley Jaffe and Jean Paul Riopelle. Hendler gave Yvonne Thomas, Stephen Pace, Robert Richenburg and Joseph Stefanelli their first solo shows.


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