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Charles Hinman is known for his exploration of the three-dimensional canvas, specifically the ways in which he creates a visual dialogue between the illusory space of the painting and the actual space on which the sculptured object rests. Hinman embraces contrast on multiple levels, through his use of color, texture, light and shadow.
Charles Hinman was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, where he attended art classes at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (now the Everson Museum of Art). In 1954, while pursuing his BFA at Syracuse University, Hinman was a professional baseball pitcher with the Milwaukee Braves minor leagues. Hinman received his BFA in 1955 and went on to study at the Art Students League of New York for a year before serving in the army from 1956 to 1958. Hinman taught mechanical drawing at the Staten Island Academy (1960-1962) and was the shop instructor at the Woodmere Academy on Long Island (1962-1964). In these two positions, Hinman developed carpentry and engineering skills that gave him the ability to construct his own shaped canvases with complex three-dimensional curves. Hinman worked at Coenties Slip from 1960 to 1962 in a studio shared with James Rosenquist whom he had met when they were students at the Art Students League. Seeking an independent path in 1963, Hinman created his first shaped canvases in his studio on 95th Street. In 1965, Hinman moved into a larger studio on the Bowery, where Will Insley, who was also working in shaped canvases, and Robert Indiana had studios as well.
Charles Hinman first received critical attention in the exhibition 7 New Artists at the Sidney Janis Gallery in May 1964 where he exhibited flat canvases cut at angles and suspended by cords. The other artists in the exhibition were: Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Norman Ives, Robert Slutsky, Robert Whitman, and Arakawa. Hinman went on to add the third dimension to his shaped canvases while examining the subtle boundary between the picture plane and the space in front of it, as well as playing with the idea of literal versus illusionistic depth. Frank Stella and Henry Geldzahler included Hinman in their exhibition, Shape and Structure, at Tibor de Nagy in January 1965. The exhibition also included Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Will Insley, Neil Williams, and Larry Bell. In the exhibition, Art in Process: The Visual Development of a Structure at Finch College Museum of Art in May 1966, structures by Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, and Robert Smithson and shaped canvases by Hinman, Will Insley, and Sven Lukin were shown. Three Young Americans at the Oberlin College Art Museum in 1965 featured Hinman, Larry Poons, and Neil Williams. The Whitney Museum of American Art included Hinman in Young America 1965 and the following year in Art of the United States 1670-1966, as well as the 1966 annual. Hinman exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual in 1966 and 1969. In Painting: Out from the Wall at the Des Moines Art Center in February-March 1968, Hinman exhibited alongside Insley, Lukin, George Ortman, and David Novros.
Hinman’s work is in the permanent collections of: the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Nagaoka Museum in Japan, the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel, and the Pfalzgalerie Museum in Germany, among other museums.