Raymond Hendler painting.

Split Personality, No.9 (1959)


Raymond Hendler was a Philadelphia born, New York School, action painter, whose mature work began in Paris, in 1949. There via the G.I. Bill, he immersed himself in the West Bank scene, 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 Musée d'Art Moderne and was a founding member of Galerie Huit, the first American cooperative gallery in Europe. Membership included: Sam Francis, Sidney Geist, Burt Hasen, Al Held, Shirley Jaffe, Paul Keene, Jules Olitski, Robert Rosenwald, Carmen D'Avino, Haywood Bill Rivers and Herbert Katzman.

Returning to New York in 1951, he was introduced to the burgeoning New York art scene where he was a voting member of the New York Artists Club from 1951 until its end in 1957. He would meet and befriend important figures of the emerging vanguard, including art critic and historian, Harold Rosenberg and the painters, Philip Guston and Franz Kline. A close, ten-year friendship with Kline would significantly inform his work.

From 1952-54, he established the Hendler Galleries, the first avant-garde gallery in Philadelphia. He exhibited: Paul Émile Borduas, Willem de Kooning, Sam Feinstein, Guston, A.P. Hankins, Hugh Kappel, Robert Keyser, 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 Riopelle. Hendler gave Yvonne Thomas her first one-woman show and Stephen Pace, Robert Richenburg and Joseph Stefanelli their first one-man shows.

Throughout the fifties, Hendler participated in numerous exhibitions including, "an American, one-man premiere," at the Dubin Galleries in Philadelphia, "fresh from Paris" and historic invitationals at the Camino, March and Stable Galleries in New York. He was represented by the Rose Fried Gallery for the period of the 1960s.

His friend, Franz Kline, wrote a forward to the catalogue for an exhibition at Rose Fried in 1962, "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." He was the only artist Kline ever wrote for.

In 1963, he was the recipient of the Longview Foundation Purchase Award for the Walker Art Center, juried by art critic, Thomas Hess, sculptor, David Smith, de Kooning, Guston and Rosenberg.

In 1964, Georgine Oeri, noted curator and art historian wrote in Quadrum (The International Magazine of Modern Art); "Raymond Hendler's work has vitality and freshness, a joyful, even playful exuberance. In his early work (which was close to, but independent of Pollock); he spread the overall web of linear forms as so many borderlines, between that first place of human awareness and that which is outside it, between the discovered and the undiscovered world, between ["l'être et le néant"] being and nothingness.

After Rose Fried's passing in 1970, he chose to forgo new representation with its inherent distractions, to more fully concentrate on his work. He produced some of his most important paintings in the 1970's and 1980s while he taught painting and drawing at the University of Minnesota. His class "Intro to Studio Arts" was one of the most popular electives at the university.

He retired from teaching in 1984 as a full professor, and relocated with his wife, Mary Rood to the East End of Long Island in 1986. They built a house in East Hampton's, Northwest Woods, where he lived and painted for the last ten years of his life.

Raymond's was an art deeply spiritual at its source - informed by all of art history - 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. Art was by his definition "deep self understanding, self awareness - edification of the spirit." The artist; "hero, sage and wise man - leader in any field. The big person."

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.


Graphic Sketch Club, Philadelphia; Philadelphia College of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of Art; Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia; Contemporary School of Art, Brooklyn; Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He studied with Philip Evergood and Lewis Daniels

Selected exhibitions:

Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris; Galerie Huit, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dubin Galleries, Philadelphia; Camino, March and Stable Galleries, New York; Rose Fried Gallery, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Selected public and private collections:

Philadelphia Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy; Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Calcutta, India; New York University, Grey Art Gallery, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Minneapolis College of Art & Design; University of New Mexico, Art Museum, Albuquerque; University of Notre Dame; J. Walter Thompson Company, New York, NY; Novartis Co., East Hanover, NJ/Basel, Switzerland; Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle, Montreal, Canada; Estate of Robert Klippel, Sidney, Australia; Richard Prince, NY.

Teaching, college level 40 years:

Assistant to Moses Soyer, Contemporary School of Art, Brooklyn; Fleicher Art Memorial, Philadelphia; Moore College of Art, Philadelphia; Head of Painting Dept, Minneapolis College of Art; Parsons School of Design, New York; Director of Evening School, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; Director of first year program, School of Visual Art, New York; Full Professor, University of Minnesota.


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