Dumpster discovery leads to rediscovery of artist Francis Hines – WSOC TV
After falling into obscurity, the late artist Francis Hines is gaining attention once again after an auto mechanic rescues hundreds of his paintings from a dumpster in Connecticut.
Hines, an abstract expressionist, gained some recognition in 1980 when he used fabric to wrap the Washington Square arch in New York in an intricate criss-cross pattern. But he kept a low profile and retreated from the art world spotlight, passing away in 2016.
The treasure trove of paintings, most using his signature wrapping style, was found a year later – and that’s where the artist’s path to rediscovery began.
A Found Art exhibit will open May 5 at the Hollis Taggart Galley in Southport, Connecticut, which is known for showing the works of lost or forgotten artists. A smaller exhibition will be presented simultaneously at the gallery’s flagship location in New York.
Hines made a good living as an illustrator for magazines and the G. Fox department store, and his personal art was about the process, not about selling or displaying his work, said historian Peter Hastings Falk. art that helps organize the exhibition.
So for decades, once he had finished a piece, he would ship it from his New York studio to a barn he rented in Watertown, Connecticut, where it was wrapped in plastic and stored.
“For him, it was like, ‘OK, I did that, that was cool, I’ll put it away,'” Falk said. “Once he’s done, he’s done and moves on to the next project. And if you don’t have a gallery selling your work, it’s going to pile up a lot.”
Taggart, the gallery’s president and art collector, said he had “never seen anything like this before”.
“In today’s art world there is a definite interest in different mediums – textiles, fabrics and ceramics – people are trying to find new and innovative ways to present contemporary art,” Taggart said. . “He did it in the 80s. He was a bit of a visionary.
Hines used his wrapping technique at other facilities, including JFK Airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. In his sculptures and paintings, he stretched fabric or other materials over or through them to create a sense of tension and dynamic energy, Taggart said.
Hines’ work remained stored in Watertown until his death at the age of 96, when his estate decided to dispose of the huge collection because the barn owner was selling the property.
Two 40-yard (37-metre) dumpsters full of sculptures and paintings had already been hauled to a landfill when Jared Whipple, a Waterbury-area mechanic and skateboarding enthusiast, got a call from a friend , George Martin, who helped get rid of art.
Because some of the paintings included images of car parts, Martin thought Whipple might like them.
Whipple thought he could use the art in a Halloween display or to hang at his indoor skateboard installation. When he started peeling off the plastic covering the parts, he began to realize he had stumbled upon something special.
“But at the same time, you would never think there was any significance or value there, because they’re all in a dumpster,” he said.
Most of the works were by F. Hines, but Whipple eventually found a small canvas, painted in 1961, that included the artist’s full name: “Francis Mattson Hines.”
That’s when the Google search started and he descended into what he called a “rabbit hole” for 4 1/2 years learning art and knocking on gallery doors. , did he declare.
This search led him back to the Washington Square Arch installation in 1980, to a book about Hines written by his wife, and ultimately to Falk and Hines’ two sons, one of whom, Jonathan Hines, is also artist.
Jonathan Hines now works with Whipple, adding more pieces of his father’s work to the exhibit.
“I think it was fate that Jared discovered my father’s work,” said Jonathan Hines. “It had to be someone outside the art world. If I hadn’t decided to throw the art away, none of this would have happened.
The family knew the artwork was valuable – but without critical acknowledgment they made the painful decision to abandon it all, said Falk, the art historian.
Hines’ paintings, most of which are owned by Whipple, will be offered for sale at the exhibition, with larger pieces expected to sell for around $20,000 each, Falk said.
But Whipple says it’s not about getting rich from something that was nearly lost in a landfill.
“I want to get recognition for this artist,” he said. “And I might like to get it into some big museums, just give it the recognition it deserves.”
Falk said Hines should be remembered as an important American artist for how he fits into the timeline of Abstract Expressionism and his unique take on wrapping technique. The fact that his work was almost lost forever, he said, only highlights it.
“Now we’re just focusing on the art, not that it was thrown away, not that it was discovered by some skateboarding auto mechanic, not anything else,” Falk said. “Just art on its own merit.”
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