Two hard edge exhibits coming to the Benton

This untitled work by June Harwood is part of the Benton Museum of Art’s upcoming “Tracing the Edge” exhibit. Photo/courtesy of Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College

By Andrew Alonzo |

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is mounting two new exhibits in the hard edge style, “Tracing the Edge” and “June Harwood: Paintings,” both of which will open Wednesday, August 23.

Hard edged is a West Coast approach to modernist abstraction and is characterized by its “detached and formal contemplation of vision and aesthetics,” that permeated the art world in the 1960s, according to a Benton news release. The style is in contrast to abstract expressionism, a movement developed in New York City in the 1940s that focused on gestures and spontaneity.

“Tracing the Edge” highlights works by contemporary Southern California artists Jackie Amézquita, Linda Arreola, Aryana Minai, and Kristopher Raos. It will also feature pieces from hard edge icons Karl Benjamin and Fredrick Hammersley from the museum’s collection.

The works are meant to redefine abstraction with contemporary pieces that draw from the globe while also “jumbling and reorganizing the boundaries among tastes, places, times, and states of mind,” read the exhibit’s description. The artists use “shape, texture, color, and material to engage questions of class, spirituality, memory, and politics.”

“’Tracing the Edge’ continues the art historical thread from hard-edge painting through to Los Angeles’s current art scene,” wrote Benton Communications Manager Caroline Eastburn in an email. “The exhibition asserts how the regional tradition of abstraction has remained consistent throughout LA’s history.”

Karl Benjamin’s 1959 “Red, Pink with Blue-Green” will be part of the Benton Museum of Art’s upcoming “Tracing the Edge” exhibit. Photo/courtesy of Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College

This showcase, curated by Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia, curatorial assistant at the Benton, and Ananya Goel, a rising Pomona College senior, is supported by a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance.

The first survey of the late artist’s career, “June Harwood: Paintings” showcases Harwood’s blend of vivid colors with dynamic composition developed throughout the 1960s. The exhibit, featuring works such as “Sliver,” “Colorform,” “Loop,” “Jigsaw,” and “Rock,” recounts Harwood’s legacy and role in the hard edge movement.

“’June Harwood: Paintings’ showcases the five-decade career of an underrecognized female painter of the hard-edge movement, which is so important to Claremont and Southern California,” Eastburn wrote. “June’s work is defined by bold color, shape, and energetic movement.”

Harwood was born in Middleton, New York, and graduated from Syracuse University in 1953. She moved to Los Angeles shortly after to further her education and artistic expression.

Harwood earned a Master of Arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles in 1957. She taught at Hollywood High School from 1958 to 1970, and then at Los Angeles Valley College from 1975 to 1993. She also held posts at the Los Angeles Art Association.

Her husband and prominent art critic, Jules Langsner, helped coin the term “hard edge” and, in 1959, brought Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, and John McLaughlin together for “Four Abstract Classicists,” the first exhibition of hard edge paintings.

Five years later Langsner curated “California Hard-Edge Painting,” which included works by Harwood. That exhibit helped put Harwood on the map as a notable hard edge stylist, according to the June Harwood Charitable Trust.

Harwood died in 2015 at 81.

“June Harwood: Paintings” grew from a partnership between the Benton and the charitable trust and will showcase 10 paintings by Harwood. The installation is curated by Benton Senior Curator Rebecca McGrew as well as June Harwood Charitable Trust Curatorial Intern Frances Sutton.

“Mid-century art and Hard-Edge painting are central to Claremont’s art history,” Eastburn wrote. “These exhibitions show a different side of the movement by bringing forward narratives that no one has really seen before. We are thrilled to dedicate all our gallery space to this moment in art history and these artists.”

The free and open to the public exhibits will run through January 7, 2024 at the Benton, 120 W. Bonita Ave., Claremont. The museum is open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with extended hours until 10 p.m. on Thursdays.

More information is at


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