Charles Hinman made Sails in 1965 at a pivotal moment in his artistic career, as he was beginning to develop his shaped, abstract canvases. For more than 50 years, the American artist has been constructing these painted works by stretching canvas over hand-built, wooden armatures. Hinman once described his shaped canvases as akin to “skin over bones.” Built on a three-dimensional armature, Sails emerges from the wall in a sharp point, where the blue, red, white, and green painted surfaces meet.
Hinman was born in Syracuse in 1932 and received his BFA at Syracuse University in 1955. After graduating, he moved to New York to study at the Arts Students League, and was quickly immersed in the artistic communities of downtown New York, where he would live and work for much of his career. Hinman arrived in the city at a moment of great energy and productivity for the arts. He belonged to a generation of artists, including Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly, who expanded the traditions of painting by reshaping their canvases, privileging real space over illusionary, painted space.
Sails was the centerpiece of our 2019 exhibition, Charles Hinman: Structures, 1965–2014, which was the first museum exhibition of works by the artist in the Washington area and his first survey in more than 30 years.