Visual Arts

Harmony Hammond and Tirza True Latimer on Queer Feminist Abstraction

Art naturally evolved from representation (pictures of things) toward abstraction, argued modernist art critic Clement Greenberg and his fellow formalists. Portraiture and landscape painting be damned: In pure art, paintings do nothing but express their essence as painting. But in the 1960s, painting about painting fell out of style and new forms emerged, feminism and queer art included. Both relied heavily on representation, pop cultural symbols, performance and text to explore political and social issues involving gender and sexuality.

Feminist artist, activist, educator and writer Harmony Hammond has been a queer amongst queers, staying committed to abstract painting from the late 1960s into the present despite the reemergence of symbol-rich art. Her career is the subject of the show Becoming/Unbecoming Monochrome at RedLine, which looks at her weave paintings from the 1970s and puts them in dialogue with some of her current, large-scale works. See also: Catherine Opie Talks Selfies, AIDS and Her Shift from Representation to Abstraction