Charles Hinman

Charles Hinman born 1932 in Syracuse, New York is an Abstract Minimalist painter, notable for creating three-dimensional shaped canvas paintings in the mid-1960s.[1]

Early yearsEdit

Charles Hinman was born in 1932, in Syracuse, New York. He initiated his artistic education at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, now the Everson Museum of Art, where he attended classes. He went on to complete his BFA in 1955 at Syracuse University.[2] Alongside his artistic talent, Charles Hinman was also dedicated to sports. While studying at university he was a professional baseball player for the Milwaukee Braves in the minor league.[3] He moved to New York to study at the Arts Student League before serving two years in the army. Upon his return he was a mechanical drawing teacher at the Staten Island Academy from 1960 to 1962 and a carpentry shop instructor at the Woodmere Academy on Long Island.[3]

New York art sceneEdit

In the early 1960s Hinman lived on Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan where he shared an abandoned sail-making loft with James Rosenquist.[4] It was an ideal art studio offering large open spaces to work at an affordable rent.[5] Along with Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman and Agnes Martin who resided in the neighbouring buildings, they formed a small artistic community away from the Upper-East side and the Abstract Expressionists from whom they wished to differentiate themselves.[6] They did not constitute an art movement as such, but rather a "support and critique family that helped each other go on their individual paths."[6] Throughout the 1960s they produced works that prefigured Pop, Minimal and Feminist Art.[7] In 1965, Charles Hinman and Robert Indiana left Coenties Slip for the Bowery where they shared a building at 2 Spring Street.[8] In 1971, he moved a block away on the Bowery where he settled in an 8000 sq/ft studio where he has remained ever since. Below Hinman's studio was that of Tom Wesselmann and above worked Will Insley, across the street were the studios of Adolph Gottlieb and Roy Lichtenstein.[9] In 2002, the New Museum became his neighbor when it was built on the adjacent lot.[10]

Shaped canvasEdit

In the 1960s Charles Hinman played a significant role in redefining the physical shape of paintings. The shaped canvas was born from the desire to break away from the traditional square or rectangular frame of painting. Rather than a formalized medium or window that contained the subject, the contours of the painting became part of the subject itself.[11] In the mid-1960s several abstract minimalist painters were experimenting with its possibilities, the most famous of which is Frank Stella. Charles Hinman drove the concept further by pushing the canvas out from the wall; his works were a form of hybrid between painting and sculpture.[12] This type of painting is known as a three-dimensional shaped canvas. As early as 1963-64 Charles Hinman created sculptural paintings with protruding geometric and undulating forms. While Sven Lukin and Richard Smith were also experimenting with the use of the three-dimensional canvas around the same time,[11] Charles Hinman's defining particularity was his focus on the illusion of space[3] and subtly suggested volume, embracing the use of color, shadow and reflection. He was influenced by Ellsworth Kelly in his flat and contrasting Hard-edge use of color but with the objective of generating and accentuating a perception of volume.[13] In the subsequent years until the early 1970s, Hinman examined the possibilities offered by this new medium: strongly protruding canvases, geometric and sensual profiles, color contrasts, color reflections on the adjacent wall, shadows, monochrome canvases.[14]

Early recognitionEdit

It was through James Rosenquist, that Charles Hinman caught the attention of prominent New York gallery owners and museum directors who visited the studio they shared.[2] Two exhibitions in 1964-65 introduced Hinman's work to the grand public and to critical attention; "Seven New Artists" at the Sidney Janis Gallery and a solo exhibition at the Richard Feigen Gallery.[15] In 1965 Frank Stella and Henry Geldzahler included Hinman's work in their group show "Shape and Structure" at Tibor de Nagy, alongside Donald Judd, Larry Bell, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Will Insley.[16] His work was shown at the Whitney Museum's landmark show "Young America 1965" and the following year in "United States 1670-1966". Hinman was represented by Richard Feigen who showed his work at his New York and Chicago galleries. While major museums such as the MOMA, the Whitney Museum and the Albright–Knox Art Gallery soon bought his work for their permanent collections, his paintings also found a home in the collection of Nelson Rockefeller.[17] From 1971 to 1973 the Parisian gallerist Denise René showed his work at her Paris and New York galleries.

Artistic conceptsEdit


Throughout his career, Charles Hinman has developed a methodical process by which he creates his works. First, he draws sketches of the final shape he wishes to create. He then designs a minute blueprint of the frameworks he needs to construct to achieve this shape, comprising all the angles and lengths of the frame.[18] His works are often composed of a juxtaposition of shaped canvases, which he bolts together into an integral form. He adds the third dimension to his paintings by fixing protuberant forms to the underpinnings. These shapes push the canvas out from the wall and create the volume in his paintings.[19] He then paints various planes of his work in order to create volume and to play with the eye of the viewer. He sometimes paints the reverse side of the canvas which sits off the wall, so as to produce a halo effect around his work. The use of light and shadows as well as contrasting colors and reflections play an important role in his creations.

6 dimensionsEdit

Hinman's work focuses on the perception of volume as opposed to literal space. He uses an array of techniques to create volume in the eye of the viewer. It is a form of trompe l'oeil that constantly evolves depending on the spectator's vantage point.[20] Hinman describes his concept as "My concept of my work is dynamic---never static. I think of my paintings as occupying a 6-dimensionnal space(…) the three dimensions of space and one each of time, light and color." According to him, space and time imply movement and the change of light: "As light moves across the object, the forms and the color appear to change with the rearrangement of the shadows. (…)The brightness causes a surface to move forward—the darkness causes the surface to recede. Further, the choice of adjacent colors causes a sensation of motion of the surfaces"[21]


Throughout his career, Hinman has continuously created works in series. His early works from the mid-1960s are voluptuous and organic with strongly contrasting hard-edge colors and projecting forms. He then moved to a two-dimensional, minimalist and geometric style in the early 1970s.[22] By the late 1970s he was exploring the potential of arched "double curved" profiles to shape his canvases. These structures became increasingly complex throughout the 1980s, reaching for scale and color in leaf-like arrangements.[23]

Since 2000, he has returned to a pure and minimal style working with light as much as with color. "A single facet or canvas may have its own color, or the shadow across it may serve as color (…) Sometimes the color solely belongs to the edge of a work, or so it seems, until one notices that Hinman has painted the back (…) He is not just shaping an object, but also taking it out from the wall."[23]

The Shaped Canvas revisitedEdit

In 1964, the Guggenheim Museum organised the show "The Shaped Canvas". Laurence Alloway, the curator of the exhibition decided to focus on two-dimensional Minimal works only, de facto excluding three dimensional as well as Pop art works from this movement.[24] This initial selection has been questioned and broadened over the years by several retrospective group shows that hosted a wider variety of shaped canvases. Frank Stella's 1965 group show "Shape and Structure" immediately refuted Olloway's position by including Charles Hinman's paintings.[25] In 1979, The Visual Arts Museum in New York organised a show named "Shaped Paintings". It opened the scope of the shaped canvas to Pop Art works as well as to three-dimensional shaped canvases. Charles Hinman's work was presented alongside that of Kenneth Noland, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Mangold, Bernard Venet and Tom Wesselmann.[26] In 2014, Charles Hinman was included in the group show "Shaped Canvas Revisited" at the Luxembourg and Dayan Gallery in New York. This exhibition, which celebrated the fifty years of the original Guggenheim show, places Hinman among the fathers of the shaped canvas movement alongside artists such as Lucio Fontana, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella and Tom Wesselmann.[27]


In recent years, Charles Hinman's work has garnered increasing attention both for his contemporary as for his "modern" (historic) works. According to some critics, his latest series of "Gems" and "Black Paintings" are arguably amongst his most interesting works.[20][28] In 2013, the Marc Straus Gallery in New York organized a retrospective covering the six decades of his career.[13]

Documentaries and videosEdit

Selected solo showsEdit

  • 2017 Charles Hinman - Shaped Paintings. WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC
  • 2013 Charles Hinman - 6 Decades. MARC STRAUS, New York, NY, USA
  • 2011 GEMS at the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, USA
  • 2004 Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL, USA
  • 1980 Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY, USA
  • 1971-5 Galerie Denise René, New York, NY, USA
  • 1967 Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, NY, USA
  • 1966 Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Source: [29]

Selected group showsEdit

  • 2014 Shaped Canvas Revisited, Luxembourg and Dayan, New York, NY, USA
  • 2004 Blast from the Past, Pace Editions, New York, NY, USA
  • 1989 American Painting Since the Death of Painting, curated by Donald Kuspit, Kuznetsky Most Exhibition Hall, Moscow, USSR
  • 1967 Whitney Annual Exhibition, Whitney Museum, New York, NY, USA
  • 1965 Recent Acquisitions, MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), New York, NY, USA
  • 1965 Shape and Structure, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY, USA

Source: [29]

Selected institutional collectionsEdit

  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA
  • Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, USA
  • Musee' des Beaux Arts de l'Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA

Source: [29]

Selected corporate collectionsEdit

  • Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY, USA
  • The Rockefeller Collection, New York, NY, USA

Source: [29]

Selected awards and honorsEdit

  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant
  • Lee Krasner Award

Source: [29]


  1. ^ Morgan, Robert (4 October 2012). "Shaping the Structure of Painting "Charles Hinman"". The Brooklyn Rail.
  2. ^ a b "John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  3. ^ a b c "Charles Hinman Biography".
  4. ^ Fialho, Alex. "Coenties Slip Artist Lofts, mid-1950s through the mid-1960s".
  5. ^ Whitney Museum of Modern Art (1974). Nine Artists/Coenties Slip. Whitney Museum of American Art.
  6. ^ a b Zimmer, Lori. "Coenties Slip Group".
  7. ^ Cotter, Holland (5 January 1993). "Where City History Was Made, a 50's Group Made Art History". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ Ghostly International (2014-10-22). "In the Studio with Charles Hinman". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  9. ^ Cohen, Adam Ben (2014-03-18). "The Art of Charles Hinman". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Building".
  11. ^ a b Colpitt, Frances (Spring 1991). "The Shape of Paintings in the 1960s". Art Journal. 50 (1): 52–56. doi:10.1080/00043249.1991.10791423. JSTOR 777086.
  12. ^ Morgan, Robert (4 October 2012). "Shaping the Structure of Painting "Charles Hinman"". The Brooklyn Rail.
  13. ^ a b Marc Straus Gallery. "Charles Hinman 6 decades". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  14. ^ The Art Students League of New York. "Charles Hinman". Archived from the original on 7 January 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  15. ^ Marc Straus Gallery. "Charles Hinman CV" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  16. ^ Meyer, James (2004). Minimalism: art and polemics in the 1960s. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300105902.
  17. ^ Art Student League. "Charles Hinman Biography". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  18. ^ Cohen, Adam Ben (2014-03-18). "The Art of Charles Hinman". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  19. ^ Auriol, Thomas. "Charles Hinman". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  20. ^ a b Villarreal, Ignacio. "New paintings by American pioneer of hard-edged shaped canvases Charles Hinman at Marc Straus". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  21. ^ "Charles Hinman". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  22. ^ Johnson, Ellen H. "Three Young Americans: Hinman, Poons and Williams". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  23. ^ a b Haber, John. "Charles Hinman and Shaped Canvas". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  24. ^ Colpitt, Frances (Spring 1991). "The Shape of Paintings in the 1960s". Art Journal. 50 (1): 52–56. doi:10.1080/00043249.1991.10791423. JSTOR 777086.
  25. ^ Meyer, James (2004). Minimalism: art and polemics in the 1960s. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300105902.
  26. ^ "Shaped Paintings". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  27. ^ Luxembourg and Dayan Gallery. "Shaped Canvas Revisited Press Release". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  28. ^ Morgan, Robert (4 October 2012). "Shaping the Structure of Painting "Charles Hinman"". The Brooklyn Rail.
  29. ^ a b c d e "Charles Hinman CV". Archived from the original on 22 June 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.