Harry Hilson Acrylic Painting "The Bittersweet Story of Life and Death," 1982
Harry Hilson (American, 1935 – 2004)
The Bittersweet Story of Life and Death, 1982
Acrylic, graphite, and pastel on paper
Signed to lower right
“I came to art through the back door, so to speak, formal art training hardly existed when I was growing up during World War II. That was a time of world chaos and disintegration, when patriotic mothers dressed their young sons in army and navy suits – no time for art then.”
-Harry Hilson, Ars Longus Vita Brevis, 1989
Harry Hilson first became seriously interested in art in the 1950s, shortly after his military career, when he was working for Collier’s and Look magazines. It was then that he came across the work of Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and began working as a full-time independent artist in 1958.
Born in Iowa, Hilson attended the Pillsbury Military Academy in Minnesota at the age of ten, then went on to serve in the United States Air Force under Major Charles Yeager. He developed an interest in engineering and airplanes, which would impact his art career later on as his flying allowed him to visit his studios throughout the country, while also exhibiting and selling his work to various galleries, institutions, and private collectors. After deciding to pursue an art career, Hilson relocated to Sarasota, Florida where he studied under artist Syd Solomon.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he traveled back and forth between Sarasota and Houston, Texas, befriending a number of fellow artists, including Jim Love, Jack Boynton, Rich Stout, and Dick Wray, all of whom would become important figures in the Modern art movement in the South.
Some notable series and projects in Hilson’s oeuvre include his large-scale landscape paintings of the South, his “Wax-Painting” or “Wa’Pas” painted on fabric, his City Series, his Contemporary Mythology 1 & 2 Series, his Neo-Figurative Series, and his Homage to Bartok Series inspired by the musical talent of Bela Bartok. Throughout his career, Hilson was very successful as an artist. He was commissioned by the city of Baltimore to create an 8 foot x 18 foot illuminated Wa’Pa titled __Unim Universe_. His work was purchased by a number of private and corporate collections such as the First National City Banks of Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic. Some institutions that have exhibited his work include the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.
- handling wear to sheet; creases throughout; discolorations.