Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Outsider Artist, Maurice Hansen, Jr.
Maurice Hansen was discovered by my friend and fellow dealer, Chris Butler. Recognizing a major talent, she immediately arranged for a one man show of his paintings at the prestigious Aetna Gallery in Hartford, CT. Hansen's canvases are loaded to the edges with all kinds of biblical symbolism, as well as reflections of the daily news. They are masterful works, held in many private collections as well as museums.
Because of an unfortunate fire in Butler's home, where a large body of his work was stored, many of his paintings were severely damaged. This particular painting, called "The Death of Lazarus", was prompted by news that a homeless man, who accidentally got doused with water, froze to death on the streets of NY. Right around the corner people were going about their lives, enjoying a restaurant dinner.
Hansen was a beloved man, who valiantly lived with schizophrenia, and a one eared cat he believed was the incarnation of Van Gogh. I still miss his quick whispers, his energy, his ever present three pair of glasses, and his enormous talent. Maurice died of cancer, untreated due to his fear of receiving shock treatments from the doctors down the street. This had been the misguided way his mental illness had been dealt with when he was a child. His remaining works rarely come to market.
I'm reminded of a quote in the Wall Street Journal that stated "Buy art that annoys, that uplifts, that challenges you to learn more about it. Buy art that you have to defend to somebody. Buy art that makes you feel smart, not art that matches your furniture." I will never tire of defending the works of Maurice Hansen.