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Modern Art Cowboy Presents: Robert Hansen
WWII Monuments Man Turned Artist
"In 1948, Hansen traveled to Mexico, where he attended a lecture given by noted muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896-1974). Siqueiros was using a new medium, called Duco, which was a shiny lacquer designed for use on appliances and automobiles. Hansen was intrigued and began using the glossy lacquer when he returned to the United States. He applied the same pouring technique and created human-like forms. "Worm" (1963) is a example of this process in his work.
Hansen is known for his unique approach to painting. He often worked with thick, industrial paint and lacquer. He painted on wood panels that were laid on the floor. In the beginning of his career, he started by covering the surface in black paint. Once dry, Hansen would pour the thickened industrial paint onto the panel and let it run slowly. Sometimes he would use a brush to move the paint, and other times he would allow it to run. This created the raised shapes with hard edges that became one
"The space Hansen created in his paintings is often ambiguous. Size relationships between figures seem arbitrary or fanciful (one small figure might be superimposed on another of gigantic proportions). As one attempts to peer into these paintings, as though through a window, the space appears to recede into infinity or conversely, there is no sense of depth. Hansen chose not to employ the usual methods of depicting deep space. Linear perspective, for example, is absent from his work.
Only a shallow field of depth was introduced by the use of overlapping shapes, thus giving the viewer the impression that some figures are positioned in front or behind others. The overall result is a flat, graphic space. By way of contrast, while the depiction of the space is two-dimensional, the physical paint is three-dimensional. A slight shadow is cast at the edge of each shape, forming a subtle relief.
This relief is one of the most compelling qualities of Hansen's work. Hansen's themes have to do with the fundamental elements of life (embryonic and phallic forms are present in many paintings), the paradoxes of the world, and the struggles of humanity, both singly and collectively. There
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