Historical Journal

Journal Archives,Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Archives,Reviews

David Hannah: Paintings and Drawings

May 2, 1986
Judith Stein

A writer and curator, studied at Barnard College, and has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Eye of the Sixties, Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). Her curatorial projects include Red Grooms, A Retrospective, for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The Figurative Fifties, New York School Figurative Expressionism, co-curated with Paul Schimmel. Her exhibition, I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, and earned a best catalogue award from AICA/USA. Her articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in Art in America, Art News, and The New York Times Book Review, as well as on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Among her honors is a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant; a Pew Fellowship for literary non-fiction; and a Lannan Foundation writing residency in Marfa, Texas.

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"Hannah received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1975 and is the recipient of a 1986 Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston."

May 2 through July 13,1986
In David Hannah’s recent work he plays his hunches, propelled by a witty and historical taste for painterly issues. He speculates aloud about space, speaking here in a cubist accent and there sounding like Matisse. Darkman, Doppelganger explores the edge between positive and negative. Taking off from a classically French interior/exterior setup, It Happens stars a goofy blue shape which both penetrates the window plane and butts a crinkled stump against a wall of green.
The way Hannah titles his work is telling. The words never imply a literal content and often come in phrase sets separated by punctuation. Smartaleck and poetic, Hannah’s titles of paired elements comprise an allusive analogue to the process of painting: WallFlowers prosaically addresses surface flatness; Rupture/Rapture juxtaposes morphological look-alikes; and Vegetable Dictatorship puts an oxymoron through its paces.
Hannah’s expressive abstractions often incorporate figural presences. Among his favorite configurations are a lounging oval, a lozenge, and an organic, segmented vertical. While many of these have been part of his formal vocabulary for decades, tall, stepped forms have only recently appeared, a seeming response to his relocation from San Francisco to New York City five years ago. His visual humor is both dark and wacky: In Vegetable Dictatorship a rampant green nearly chokes out the foreground as orange and mauve glint through an occasional fissure. Hannah gifts his viewers with an eyeful: color-rich, whimsical scenarios provide a vehicle for intense meditations on the nature of both art and life.
Judith Stein
Associate Curator and Coordinator, Morris Gallery
David Hannah’s works are shown courtesy of the artist. All of the paintings are oil on canvas.
1. Darkman, Doppelganger, 1984 102 x 90″
2. You Should Have More Courage, I Want to Be Chinese, 1985 90 x 114′
3. It Happens, 1985 72 x 60′
4. Rupture/Rapture, 1986 72 x 80″
5. Vegetable Dictatorship, 1986 80 x 72″
6. WallFlowers, 1985 24 x 24″
7. Wolf, 1985 24 x 24″
8. Torn from (a Page), 1985 16 x 16″
9. VoiceVoyage, 1986 16 x 16″
10. Drawing, 1985, acrylic, ink, gesso 30 x 20 1/2″
11. Drawing, 1985, charcoal 36 x 30″
12. Drawing, 1985, ink on Mylar 25 x 23′

Artist Biography
Born in Sherman, Texas, in 1937, David Hannah studied at Rice Institute, Houston, and the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture. He was awarded an M.F.A. in 1967 from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has taught at the University of California, Davis (1967-68), and UC, Santa Barbara (1980), and at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1968 through 1981. He is currently Professor of Art and chair of the Department of Painting, Drawing & Sculpture at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Hannah received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1975 and is the recipient of a 1986 Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. He has designed costumes for Douglas Dunn and Dancers, New York (1985).

Solo exhibitions include:
Suzanne Saxe Gallery, San Francisco (1972, 1974); Grapestake Gallery, San Francisco (1975,1977); Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA (1976); Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (1979); Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara (1980); Fabian Carlsson Gallery, London (1985).

Group exhibitions include:
Four Painters, Oakland Museum (1970); Works on Paper, San Francisco Art Institute (1971); Bay Area Artists, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1977); A Peek Into the Life of Rose Selavy, Helen Euphrat Gallery, DeAnza College, Cupertino, CA (1978); California Artists, Oakland Museum (1979,1981); Recent Acquisitions, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: The Palace of the Legion of Honor (1981); Abstractions — Eight California Painters (curator: Richard Armstrong), San Francisco Art Institute (1981); Three Painters, Edward Thorp Gallery, NYC (1984); Luxe, Calme et Volupte, Nine Abstract Artists and Their Use of Color (curator: John Yau), One Penn Plaza, NYC (1984); More Than Meets the Eye, Galleria Carini, Florence (1985).

Bibliography (selected)
Thomas Albright. “Four Artists in Oakland,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 30,1970.
Cecile McCann. “Four San Francisco Art Institute Faculty,” Art Week, August 22,1970.
Thomas Albright. “San Francisco Art Institute Works on Paper,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 26,1971.
Alfred Frankenstein. “Artists and Great Themes,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 3,1972.
Thomas Albright. “The Path of Exploration,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 8,1973.
_________.”Hannah’s Paintings,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 16,1974.
Cecile McCann. “David Hannah: December 1973,” Art Week, February 23, 1974.
Thomas Albright. “Blockbuster at the San Francisco Art Institute,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 22,1975.
Charles Shere. “San Francisco Art Institute Show,” Oakland Tribune, January 26,1975.
Judith L. Dunham. “San Francisco Art Institute Faculty Show,” Art Week, February 23,1975.
Alfred Frankenstein. “What the New Artists Are Up To,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 1975.
Alexander Fried. “Grapestake Show,” San Francisco Examiner, July 12, 1975.
Alfred Frankenstein. “At the Galleries,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 1977.
Thomas Albright. San Francisco Chronicle, review, September 18, 1979
Cathy Curtis. “The Eclecticism of Contemporary Abstractions,” Art Week, 1981.
Thomas Albright. “A Theme Show without a Theme,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 20,1981.
Michael Brenson. “Luxe, Calme et Volupte,” New York Times, January 4, 1985.
Thomas Albright. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area: 1945-1980, University of California Press, 1985, p.282.
John Yau. “Thwarted Desires, Bold Assertions,” David Hannah, Paintings/ Drawings 1983/5, London, Fabian Carlsson Gallery, 1985.
Tony Godfrey. “David Hannah at Fabian Carlsson,” Artscribe International, London, No. 55, December/January 1985/86.
______. “David Hannah at Fabian Carlsson,” The Burlington Magazine, December 1985.
The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Academy. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery’ Exhibition Committee are: Cynthia Carlson, Bill Freeland, Dr. Helen Herrick, Jay Richardson Massey, Cheryl McClenney, John Moore, Elizabeth Osborne, Eileen Rosenau, Mark Rosenthal; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, Kathleen Foster, Betty Romanella; and Academy students Ed Lewis and Anna Yates.
Copyright Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Philadelphia, 1986
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