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David Hare

(1917—1992)


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(1917–92).

Sculptor, photographer, painter, and occasional printmaker. Known primarily for surrealist-oriented, mostly metal sculpture combining abstract and representational elements, his work explores the inner life of thought and feeling. He played a central role in New York's artistic community during World War II as editor of VVV, a short-lived avant-garde publication intended to promote “imaginative works of universal interest.” Although he associated with abstract expressionists and shared many of their interests, as an artist he remained tethered in the long run to surrealism. Born in New York, in his youth Hare lived with his family in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. He never pursued formal training in art, going to work instead as a commercial photographer. In the late 1930s he was hired by New York's American Museum of Natural History to document American Indians of the Southwest. By the time he published a 1941 portfolio of works from this expedition, he was investigating a surrealist technique to distort photographic images by using heat to cause the emulsion to flow. He showed these works at Julien Levy's gallery in New York late in 1940 and soon entered the circle of European émigrés waiting out World War II. As managing editor of VVV, he worked with surrealist leader André Breton (the magazine's founding and controlling spirit), Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Robert Motherwell, among others. (In 1943 Breton's wife, painter Jacqueline Lamba, left him for Hare. They married the following year but separated about ten years later.) Although the magazine appeared only three times between 1942 and 1944, it provided an influential focus of thought among surrealist-oriented New Yorkers and abetted the interchange of aesthetic notions and artistic forms between Americans and Europeans.

Hare quickly showed promise after taking up sculpture in 1942. He used varied materials to assemble figural inventions indebted to Alberto Giacometti and Alexander Calder, as well as to tribal sculpture. Later that year, he numbered among few Americans admitted to the “First Papers of Surrealism” show, and his work soon appeared at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery. In 1948 he helped to found the Subjects of the Artist school, along with Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and other abstract expressionists. Later that year, he departed for Paris, where he lived for about five years. (He also summered there before and after this sojourn.) Around 1951 he began to work with welded metal, later also using poured methods and innovative techniques of creating textured surfaces. His biomorphic and symbolic vocabulary suggests similar concerns in the contemporary work of such sculptors as Herbert Ferber and Theodore Roszak, but Hare's work remained generally smaller, less aggressive in tone, and more attuned to surrealist fantasy. The bronze and steel rods and cutout shapes of Sunrise (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 1954–55) vaguely evoke the French Riviera landscape that inspired the work. Yet, the work's spiky forms speak of menace and psychological disquiet, familiar themes within surrealism, to create a tense and vibrant composition. In the late 1950s Hare took up painting, which for a time in the 1960s absorbed his full attention and subsequently remained an interest equivalent to sculpture. In their organic forms, sometimes incorporating representation, the paintings extend his mythic and symbolic purposes into another medium. During the 1940s Hare had a country home in Connecticut's popular northwest corner, which drew many artists and writers of the period, including a large contingent of Europeans. Later, when eastern Long Island attracted the summer art crowd, he maintained a residence there. In 1985 he moved to Victor, Idaho, not far from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he died in a hospital.

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Subjects: Art.


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