June Harwood Hard-Edge paintings

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College in Claremont, CA presents the first survey exhibition devoted to the California Hard-Edge painter June Harwood. “June Harwood: Paintings” will be on view at the museum from August 23, 2023 to January 7, 2024. The exhibition, a collaboration with the June Harwood Charitable Trust, features more than 30 large-scale oil and acrylic paintings that span the length of Harwood’s decades-long career. It includes five paintings donated by the trust to the Benton.

“I believe that the Benton Museum of Art is the ideal venue to host a rediscovery of Harwood’s important contribution to painting,” Dennis Reed, Harwood’s longtime friend and colleague who is Trustee of the June Harwood Charitable Trust, said. “Hard-Edge painters Karl Benjamin and Frederick Hammersley both taught at Pomona College, and the Benton Museum houses important examples of their art. I am so pleased that paintings by Harwood are now also included the Benton collection.”

About the Artist

June Harwood was born in Middleton, New York, in 1933 and received a BFA from Syracuse University in 1953. She moved to Los Angeles, earning an MA from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1957.

While working as a teacher at Hollywood High School and then a professor at Los Angeles Valley College, Harwood refined a style of abstraction and compositional rigor that she had started developing around 1960. This style eventually became known as “Hard-Edge,” a term coined in 1959 by critic and curator Jules Langsner (whom Harwood married in 1965), which is characterized by flat planes of color defined by sharp borders, uniform paint application, bold colors, and pure abstraction.

Other artists recognized today as Hard-Edge painters include Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, Helen Lundeberg, and John McLaughlin.

Harwood retired from teaching in 1993 and continued to paint until her death in 2015.

June Harwood Paintings

Throughout her five-decade career, Harwood produced bodies of work defined by different permutations of color, shape, and energetic movement. Because she worked serially, one can see her ideas emerge and develop over time. From the angular Sliver and curvilinear Colorform paintings, which cemented her place in the California abstract art scene, to the dynamic Loop paintings that appear to pulse and dance, the exhibition captures the breadth of the artist’s vision.

“June Harwood: Paintings” charts the evolution of her abstraction, chronicling her move to and away from organic forms, fragments and wholes, and bright to muted palettes.

Following the presentation at the Benton, “June Harwood: Paintings” will travel to the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University in Ogden in 2024, followed by other museums to be determined. A publication of the same title will be available for the first time at the exhibition and will include essays by curator and writer Daniell Cornell, art critic Christopher Knight, senior curator Rebecca McGrew, and curator and trustee Dennis Reed.

The exhibition is accompanied by a concurrent presentation in the Benton’s galleries, “Tracing the Edge,” which links Hard-Edge painting with works by contemporary abstract painters.

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