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Edward Hagedorn: Volcanoes, Riots, Wrecks, & Nudes

Multiple details from the exhibition - Edward Hagedorn: Volcanoes, Riots, Wrecks, & Nudes

March 16–May 15, 2016

Swartz and Rosenberg Galleries

Guest curated by Stuart Denenberg and Beverly Denenberg, Editors of
Edward Hagedorn: California Modernist, Restlessness and Restraint


About the Exhibition

Discover the dramatic works on paper of Edward Hagedorn (1902-1982), an American Modernist who moved seamlessly between aesthetic approaches—expressionism to lyricism—and themes—from social commentary to sensuality—from the mid- 1920s through the late 1940s.  Born in Berkeley, California, Edward Hagedorn (1902-1982) briefly attended the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, before opening a studio with longtime friend and fellow artist Paul Carey in the famed “100” block of Montgomery Street, then a Bohemian center and artists’ haven.

Influenced by German Expressionism, European Modernism, and Surrealism, Hagedorn’s style draws aesthetic parallels to the work of his contemporaries on the East coast, rather than those working in California who were influenced at the time by Impressionism, Cubism, and Fauvism.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the artist worked in a number of graphic media, from etchings, to woodcut, to monotype and more. This first international touring exhibition of his art offers a comprehensive look at the major themes important to the artist, including his motifs of the nude, the landscape, and the horrors of war. (The title of the exhibition is taken from an artist statement for a 1944 show at Raymond & Raymond Gallery which read, “Hagedorn hates newspapers, magazines, radios, and movies. His favorite subjects are: volcanoes, riots, wrecks, nudes, and mythology.”)

According to Paul Carey, describing his colleague: "'Ed was an outsider, a loner, a tall thin man who walked down the street looking like a question-mark; he had no use for success." Financially independent from the 1930s on, having inherited a sizable income from his adoptive maternal family's insurance agency, Hagedorn made little effort to market his art, but continued to work, withdrawing to the seclusion of his studio/residence in Berkeley.

Now, in these works, viewers will come to understand the tremendous range of the artist’s imagination and wit, his bold color, and his unflagging commitment to explore and expose the human condition.

Copies of the book Edward Hagedorn: California Modernist, Restlessness and Restraint will be available for sale in the Shop at Danforth Art.

About the Artist

After briefly attending the San Francisco School of Fine Arts in the 1920s, Edward Hagedorn (1902-1982) opened a studio with another young artist in the famed "100" block of Montgomery Street , then a haven for bohemians.

In the development of California artists’ embrace of modern art, 1926 was a year of tremendous importance That  year the Oakland Art Museum, under the direction of William Clapp, showed the art of the "Blue Four"—Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, and Wassily Kandinsky—with an acknowledgement of their European representative Emmy (Galka) Scheyer’s guidance and inspiration. Other artists whose work was shown in the ’most advanced gallery in the Bay Area’ included Matisse, Picasso, Alexander Archipenko, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Schwitters. The overarching modernizing presence in the Oakland exhibitions were German art movements, and Hagedorn, of German extraction, was drawn to and influenced by them.  His work caught the eye of Galka Scheyer, who offered to represent him, and even invited him to become the fifth member of the "Blue Four," but Hagedorn rejected her overtures.

Hagedorn’s work was included in a 1927 exhibition at the Oakland Art Museum, and his painting of a female nude wearing nothing but silk stockings, reminiscent of Courbet's 1866 oil, "Origin of the World," created a scandal. The art critic for The Chronicle, Gene Hailey, along with a "lady’s (ladies?) committee," demanded its withdrawal from the exhibition in newspaper articles and letters to Director Clapp, who steadfastly supported the artist. Despite attempts at censorship and threatened disinheritance by his wealthy father, Hagedorn persisted in his convictions, and continued to paint and draw the female nude as a primary subject of artistic interest, along with California landscapes and dark observations on the horrors of war, throughout his long life.

Financially independent from the 1930s, having inherited a sizable income, Hagedorn made little effort to market his art, but continued to work, withdrawing to the seclusion of his studio/residence in Berkeley. However, Hagedorn achieved some critical acclaim in his lifetime. He won print competitions at the Brooklyn Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and joined the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Critic Alfred Frankenstein wrote that, "Hagedorn is one of the finest draughtsman I ever knew."

Hagedorn died in 1982, leaving the bulk of his artistic production in his attic.  Works dated as early as 1925 were found in dozens of boxes filled with hundreds of prints, watercolors, temperas, and drawings.

Edward Hagedorn’s art is a major discovery in American modernism. We are proud to bring his work to light in this first international traveling exhibition opening at Danforth Art in Framingham, Massachusetts.

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Supported in part by:

Masschusetts Office of Travel and Tourism Mass Cultural Council

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