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Leonora Hamill


Members of the public can be excused for feeling that they’re not really welcomed into the art world. Usually they must make do with the final result, excluded from the process or the train of thought that produced the art. Breaking this barrier, Leonora Hamill in Art in Process brings us backstage into the spaces where art students create work and where they learn to be artists—all photographed with the straightforwardness of Eugene Atget or Walker Evans. Her large format photographs are highly detailed and present more information than casual viewers would likely notice if they entered the rooms themselves. These works are non-directive in that they don’t appear to interpret the scene for us or direct our attention to the “important parts.” They let us snoop around, make our own observations of the nuts and bolts of art making, and draw our own conclusions.

If this was all these photographs did, they would be valuable. However, as we gather practical information from these dry, scientific images, we ourselves begin noticing the beautiful conjunctions of these “nuts and bolts.” We see that the unfinished clay sculptures are wrapped to keep them from drying out, but we also see that the wrapping makes them haunting and mysterious. The Roman drawing studio has a plaster altarpiece, two armless, flayed plaster men, and a headless skeleton for the students to learn to draw from, but these objects also make a strange and powerful tableau together. At the head of a flight of stairs, a statue looks down while behind it lurks a delicious jumble of painted sticks that echoes Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 Nude Descending a Staircase. Thus Hamill shows us both the technical and the magical sides of how people become artists: how they learn to draw what they see but also, more importantly, how they learn to see.

Christopher Rauschenberg, Exhibition Committee and Board Chair, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Oregon


Born in Paris in 1978, Leonora Hamill is an artist based in New York and London who uses film, video, photography, and collage in her work.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London and of the International Center of Photography in New York, Hamill had previously trained as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and at the University of Oxford.

In 2012 Hamill won the Prix HSBC pour la Photographie for her series Art in Progress, which focuses on studios in art schools around the world; she also published her first monograph with Actes Sud. Her recent exhibitions include shows at Église Saint-Eustache in Paris (2015); the American Academy in Rome (2014); the Musée Géo-Charles in Grenoble, France (2013); and Somerset House in London (2013). She will be exhibiting images from Art in Progress at the Musée des BeauxArts de la Ville de Paris in April 2016.

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