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Jane Hammond: The John Ashbery Collaboration, 1993–2001

June 23, 2002 – September 1, 2002


This exhibition features eighteen paintings created by Jane Hammond in collaboration with the poet John Ashbery. In 1993, Hammond commissioned Ashbery to create a set of titles that would serve as catalysts for her paintings. Employing Ashbery’s eclectic use of language, the forty-four titles have served as initial inspiration for more than sixty paintings during the 8-year span of this project. The resulting relationship between paintings and titles range from playfully evident to practically obscure, yet all originate from the lively intersection between language and image.

In the late 1980’s, Hammond developed a system of painting involving 276 found images that constitute a fixed visual vocabulary. An obsessive collector, Hammond selected these images from a variety of sources such as 19th century technical manuals, antique children’s books, handbooks on magic, botanical guides, and pornographic comics. Hammond takes these images out of their original context and recombines them to create a multiplicity of meanings. With her focus on the Ashbery titles, Hammond freed herself to expand the rules of her game by creating her first shaped canvases and increasing the colors of her palette.

Hammond’s interest in this project extends from an ongoing philosophical approach to painting that challenges the medium itself. A central question for the artist is how to align painting, a traditional and static art form, with the constant assault of imagery that defines contemporary life. Hammond’s densely packed compositions convey differing universes at work simultaneously. Fragmentary, yet fluid, her paintings are models that embrace closure and infinity, choice and chance, the archetype and the individuated.

Exhibition Support

Jane Hammond: The John Ashbery Collaboration and the accompanying catalog have been generously sponsored by American Greetings, Point to Point Communications, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Fifth Floor Foundation, Galerie Lelong, Jim Kempner Fine Art, Greg Kucera Gallery, Lemberg Gallery, Sharon and Thurston Twigg-Smith and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery.