The first posthumous retrospective for this American sculptor (1922-1981), who created highly personal, exquisitely crafted constructions and assemblages in wood, metal and found objects.
"H.C. Westermann," the first posthumous retrospective for this American sculptor (1922-1981),
who created highly personal, exquisitely crafted
constructions and assemblages in wood, metal and found objects, will open
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002, at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue at Seventh Street S.W. The show
continues through May 12.
On tour from its summer 2001 premiere at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, this exhibition of over 130 works includes Westermann's images of houses, ships, towers, boxes, robots, coffins, surreal landscapes , and toy-like figurines with frequent references to war and death, consumer culture and art, literature and film. It travels to Los Angeles and Houston after closing in Washington.
Lynne Warren and Michael Rooks, the MCA's co-curators of the exhibition, will discuss H.C. Westermann's work in a "Curators' Dialogue" on the opening day at 12:30 p.m. in the Hirshhorn's Ring Auditorium. Another speaker, curator Robert Storr of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, will present his lecture, "A Country Gone Nuts: Westermann's America" at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 10. Both programs are free.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Westermann saw action during World War II in the South Pacific and then Korea before becoming an artist in Chicago. He established his reputation there and moved to Connecticut where he continued to work through the 1960's and '70's. Westermann was an important inspiration for artists such as Bruce Nauman and William T. Wiley and movements like the Chicago Imagists and West Coast Funk Artists, but he remained steadfastly outside the mainstream, peppering his two and three dimensional work with enigma, puns, salty humor, vernacular allusions, and unexpected anthropomorphic imagery.
The Hirshhorn Museum's hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week (closed Dec. 25); By Metrorail take the L'Enfant Plaza Metro stop, exit at Maryland Ave. and 7th Street.
FREE PROGRAMS - "H.C. Westermann"
* Thursday, February 14, 12:30 p.m. Curators' Dialogue. "I'd Like to Live Here: H.C. Westermann's Life and Work." Exhibition cocurators, Lynne Warren and Michael Rooks, of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, will discuss the artist's work. Ring Auditorium.
* Thursday, Mar. 7, 8 p.m. Film. "The Bat Whispers" is a 1930's campy thriller. Westermann was a dead ringer for the star, a B-movie legend, Chester Morris, and considered this film an inspiration.
* Friday, Mar. 8, 8 p.m. Film. "The Bat Whispers."
* Sunday, Mar. 10, 3 p.m. Lecture. "A Country Gone Nuts: Westermann's America." Robert Storr, Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, will explore Westermann's idiosyncra tic style in the context of twentieth-century art. Ring Auditorium.
* Friday, Mar. 15, 1--3 p.m. Art Explorers Workshop for Adults. "It's What's Inside that Counts." Work with an artist to create your self-portrai t as a house. Pre-registration required.*
* Saturday, Mar. 16, 10 a.m. * noon. Young at Art. "Houses with Attitude." Children ages 6 to 9 accompanied by an adult use found objects to create buildings and figures. Pre-registration required.*
* Saturday, April 6, 9 a.m. * 3 p.m. Workshop for Educators. "Celebrating 100 Years of Sculpture." Participants will tour the galleries and create art in a hands-on workshop. Pre-registration required.*
* Thursday, April 11, 8 p.m. Film. "Le Quai des Brumes" (1938). Marcel Carne's maritime tale of love and betrayal delves into the dark, gritty drama of portside life. In French with English subtitles.
* Friday, April 12, 8 p.m. Film. "The Death Ship" (1959). Based on B. Traven's tragicomic novel about Western society after World War I, George Tressler's film is about love and peril on the high seas and was a strong influence on Westermann. In German with English subtitles.
* Saturday, April 13, 11:30 a.m. * 2 p.m. Improv Art. "Castles, Tiles, and Tic-Tac-Toe" are on the agenda for this fun family day of constructing figures from found objects. Pre-registration required.*
* Wednesday, April 17, 12:30 p.m. Gallery Talk. In her talk "Mainstream Maverick," Valerie Fletcher, Curator of Sculpture, guides visitors through the exhibition. Meet at the Information Desk.
* Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m. New Voices. Tour the exhibition with Nicholas Richard Klank and Stanley Mathurin, sculpture students at the University of Maryland. Meet at the exhibition entrance, second floor.
*Call 202-357-3235 ext. 117.
Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue at Seventh Street S.W.