Sunday, January 24, 2010

Personal yet Universal

These are bits and pieces of cloth, old papers, wood and old rusty metal I have collected this past year.

This book, Hannelore Baron: Works from 1969-1987, by Ingrid Schaffner, was published on the occasion of a traveling exhibition managed by the Smithsonian Institution in cooperation with the Estate of Hannelore Baron and the Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles. You can still find this book used, along with other gallery pamphlets/catalogs at The Manny Silverman gallery in Los Angeles still represents her works. (None of the images in this post were taken from this publication. )

"Everything I've done is a statement on the, as they say, human condition...The way other people march to Washington, or set themselves on fire, or write protest letters, or go to assassinate someone. Well, I've had all the same feelings that these people have had about various things, and my way out, because of my inability to do anything else for various reasons, has been to make the protest through my artwork...." ---Hannelore Baron

Hannelore Baron was born in Germany in 1926. Her parents were proprietors of a small fabric shop. In 1938, during Kristallnacht (Nov. 9th), Baron witnessed the destruction of her home and the beating of her father. The family hid in the attic and her father was imprisoned at Dachau. Her mother was later arrested. Baron and her brother escaped to Luxemborg, and her parents later joined them. They eventually managed to sail to New York. Over the years she experiences a number of breakdowns and bouts of cancer. Her work goes through a number of transitions as she moved into paper and cloth collage and wooden assemblage. In 1989, there was a retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

For Hannelore Baron, 1926-1987, making art was a meditative form of experience and communication. She favored materials that were fragmentary in nature and familiar from use: scraps of fabric, wood, string, wire, game pieces, and labels. Together with her own cryptic drawings, she formed small collages and wooden boxes. Baron sought to compose what she called the 'message'-- an imagery of suffering and human hope. --- Ingrid Schaffner

"The materials I use in the box constructions and cloth collages are gathered with great care. The reasons I use old cloth and boxes is that new material lacks the sentiment of the old, and seems dry and hard in an emotional sense. ...I have always worked only for my own satisfaction and if the work is shown and accepted it is a wonder and coincidence to me because it was never intended for that." ---Hannelore Baron

I first saw Hannelore Baron's small, intimate works in a gallery in Seattle, in 1996. I had already seen her works in a book and knew a little about her-- that she had escaped the Holocaust and her childhood memories and adult struggles had informed her work at a deep personal level.
But knowing that small amount of history did not prepare me for the first impression and impact of seeing her work in person. I could not take my eyes off of the small pieces. I became very quiet, the busy city and traffic noises disappeared. I did not want to leave. The works touched me in such a deep way that I still can't explain or understand. But I did realize that this is what art works should do-- make us stop, make us look again and again...there should be a feeling of personal familiarity and universal humanity... a connection.

I would like to dedicate this post to my new found friend, Aleksandra, from the Netherlands. You can find her wonderful blog, New Times Arrived, here.

How Poetry Comes to Me
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light.
----- Gary Snyder


Aleks said...

"The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers, and cities;
but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and though distant,
is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden."
- Goethe

It is an honour to be your new friend,as I love to "walk" with you trough your garden as I love your work of art,am I allowed now to make typo's and
comment in "bad" English,pretty please?
Thank you for your kind and heartfelt post,have a beautiful day,love,light and peace,

Leslie Avon Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Avon Miller said...

I sense, through Hannelore's works, the extreme satisfaction that comes from making art for one's self; authentically created and communicating without reliance on images or words. She told her story and the events of her life.
Hi Aleksandra - I applaud you for commenting in English and I for one, shall ignore tiny typos and just appreciate what you have to say and share.

jo horswill said...

Thanks Donna...this post is wonderful, as is the work of Hannalore Baron.
May need to invest in this book
I think...

Your collection over the last year is beautiful to see in quiet waiting :)

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Donna,

First let me compliment you on an excellent selection of colour for your new background, as I find it very pleasing on several levels over the previous blue.

The colour suits your material is provides a warm comfort for the visitor, while also being elegant in its appearance.

Your post had me frozen in my tracks, mesmerized by the work of Hannalore Baron. I know i wish to learn more about her work and maybe someday have the luxury to see it in person.

Thank you for sharing.

Yvette said...

thanks for your beautiful to Aleks


zendotstudio said...

Great post, as always. Wonderful to discover Hannalore. What I loved the most was your description of your reaction when you first saw her work in person, how deeply you were touched and the fact, that this is the essence of art, that one soul reaches out and touches another in some deep way, that cannot be described in words.

Ian Foster said...

I am grateful to you for introducing me to the work of Hannelore Baron, I must try to obtain a copy of her book. Her phrase 'The reasons I use old cloth and boxes is that new material lacks the sentiment of the old, and seems dry and hard in an emotional sense', really resonates with me.
Your collection of 'goodies' at the top of the post is to die for.

ArtPropelled said...

Oh my word! First your delicious photo of bits and pieces (zoomed in for a closer look) and then Hannelore Baron! This is the first time I've seen her work and my heart is pounding.

Penelope said...

What wonderful work, thank you so much for sharing this artist with us. This is the second post in as many days on my Reader about people being moved by art, it's making me realise that the spark has gone out for me lately. Time to reconnect.

Caterina Giglio said...

what an amazing post, Donna. Hannelore's work is stunning and the tiny drawings or are they paintings? are very emotionally intense. I was just taken with your response at seeing her work in person. thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Unknown said...

Truly, I am moved by this post and the works and words of this remarkable woman and artist. Thank you, Donna!

Kerin said...

I didn't know of her work and I am so thankful to have seen this. It's so very beautiful especially the pieces with old wood, wires and text. I am blown away!!! Thanks so much for sharing this, Donna. You made my day.

Deborah said...

Wonderful post and I love your bits and pieces. I was not familiar with her work and I am so glad you introduced her.

nancy neva gagliano said...

Hannelore's expression is indeed personal, and you gave this post the perfect title. i'm feeling quiet and touched by her words and authentic works, your gathering this together to share, and the brilliance of the guggenheim! to recognize the real.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I was captured by Hannelore Baron's work years ago in the back of an art magazine...a small photo in a review about her work. That little photo led me to find out more about her...such power in her highly personal and as you say universal expressions. I would love to see her work in person...your description was beautiful.Thank you for this lovely reminder and for sharing as usual your full range, authentic post.

Delwyn said...

Hello Donna

this is a lovely post for a number of reasons:

Firstly to know that you have connected with the delightful Aleks in the Netherlands who is such a sweet gentle soul...

and then to be introduced to the art of Hannelore Baron - thank you for showing us her work and also for describing your response to it. I intend to pursue her further...

and thirdly for seeing how this woman's work had found roots in your own...or should that be round the other way...but I can feel a connection there. I too would love to see the work up close.

I love your collection displayed...the aged and worn papers and bits beg to be touched, and smelled...they carry history in their cells...

Thank you Donna

Happy days

Bob Cornelis said...

Wonderful post, as usual. Lots to digest - you always serve us a full meal!

I particularly appreciated sharing your feelings about seeing Hannelore's work. And the poem by Gary Snyder is a gem.

Anil P said...

The post made for wonderful reading.

I'm new to Hannelore's work, but reading of her background it is possible to find resonance in her art.

And "art as meditative and communicative" sounds just right. Meditative surely, usually the first takeaway for most artists.

Gaby Bee said...

Your bits and pieces are terrific. I love such cool stuff!
Thanks for introducing me to the art of Hannelore Baron. This is the first time I've seen her work. I would really love to see some of her creations in person. Thanks for this wonderful post!

Mostly Turquoise said...

Hi Donna,

What a gorgeous post, again! I might feel the need to order the book on Hannelore Baron. And about trying to find my balance I think you were right. This past Sunday of merely reading certainly helped. And: today I finished some quilted panels made of the blue pillows I mentioned last week. But I'm mailing from the library because our computers at home both are down (?)and here I cannot upload any picture. Has to wait, but at least I can work now "-)
Thanks for your comments on my blog, it means so much for me,

Regina SXM

Janean said...

beautiful post, art and poem.

i think suki and kobe were moved by wait, they were rolling over. sorry. ;)

Mary Buek said...

Love Hannalore's art, but truthfully, I like your art even better.

Judy said...

We learn so much from each others blogs and today I discovered Hannalore from you, thanks.

When i saw the name, not knowing the history it reminded me of a Hannalore in Sydney, a woman, mentally unstable because of her direct Holocaust experience, as I kept reading your post, the similarity was uncanny.

The book would be interesting, seeing her collages, even more so.

Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I had just finished read Neva Gagliano's blog post re: social justice graphics when I came over to your site. The two posts make poignant complimentary pieces. Thanks so much for sharing Baron's work. There is an artist whose work is both suffered and compassionate.
Left me heavy with contemplating how I can contribute to the social issues of our times.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this and introducing me to Hannelore Baron.

Sondra said...

What an amazing post and sensitive story. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to see her work in person. Beautiful. There is such a clear correlation between one's art and person.
I too, love your blog backround color.
Positive energy to you.

rivergardenstudio said...

Donne, what a sad and beautiful post, your story of Hannelore Baron and her art... which I love as well. have a lovely day. roxanne

shayndel said...

Thank you for sharing these exquisite images, and your experience of 'meeting' this artist.

THank you for your comment--
"Beace on Earth", I like that!

best wishes from Japan

Coffee Messiah said...

Thank goodness for books, for those of us unable to see a lot of art in a controlled environment.

Beautiful and Thanks for sharing!

btw, i'm afraid the party in question has squandered the past yr in an attempt to work with the other party who simply doesn't want anything done, unless it's their way. and after the last 8 yrs, i ponder why? !


Aleks said...

Hello Donna,have I mention to you what is one of my dearest inspirations,probably not.Have you heard of lovely Charlotte Salomon?

Artist Charlotte Salomon killed in Auschwitz October 10, 1943 - In France was the Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon not safe from the Nazi Germans. She was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where they killed her two weeks later than she was charged. Charlotte Salomon was born on April 16, 1917 in Berlin into a Jewish family. Charlotte had an early interest in art and in 1936 she joined the academy. A year later she won a prize with her work, but found that she was Jewish when she was forced to leave the academy. After Kristallnacht in 1939 Charlotte fled to her grandparents in southern France, where she began painting. Here she made a series of more than 1,300 autobiographical component, as it finalized in 1942. Also in Vichy was Charlotte not safe, and with her Jewish husband Alexander she was arrested and transported to Auschwitz. Here she was murdered when she was four months pregnant.
The beautiful book I have is called "Life? Or Theatre?" and this is one link American Art I have found,there are other links as well,so may be it is interesting for you,thank you.
Greetings Aleksandra

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful touching...

Laura said...

Thank you Donna for introducing us to the work of Hannelore. At this time when so many survivors of the Shoah are passing, it is vital that their lives and their memories remain as reminders to protect human dignity across all borders and throughout time.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

boro boro has long been an inspiration to me, as the Ranru aesthetic. There is a resonance here. Nice blog... -jayne