Horace Clifford Westermann (American, 1981)

Horace Clifford Westermann (American, December 11, 1922–November 3, 1981) was a sculpture and printmaker best known for incorporating social commentary into his pieces. Born in Los Angeles, CA, he spent much of his early life in the Pacific Northwest. He originally attended the Los Angeles City College before leaving school to enlist in the military. During World War II, he served on the USS Enterprise as a Marine Corps gunner. After the War ended, he returned to the Pacific Northwest and worked for the railroad. In 1947, he moved to Chicago and enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. With Americans enlisting in the military to help with the Korean War, Westermann decided to reenlist with the Marine Corps. After his second tour of duty, Westermann went back to Chicago and finished a degree in fine arts.

Westermann frequently used his experiences in the military as inspiration for his work. Though he enlisted twice, he found that the things he experienced and saw during war times gave his work a slightly dark feel. One of his pieces, The Unaccountable, showed the globe associated with the Marine Corps atop a wood base. When the piece was sold in 2009, it broke the record for the largest sale price of a sculpture. Westermann also incorporated marquetry into his pieces, adding thin sheets of wood veneer to give his sculptures texture and more depth. His piece They Couldn't Put "Humpty Dumpty" Back Together Again utilized marquetry. As his popularity grew, Westermann developed a few famous fans. The rock band the Beatles even had him pose for the cover of their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Westermann’s work is part of the public collections at several museums, including The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL, The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, SC, and the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, KS. He also exhibited his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, NY, the Dilexi Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, and the Allan Frumkin Gallery in Chicago, IL. Westermann died in 1981 in Danbury, CT.

Timeline

1922
Born in Los Angeles, CA
1941
Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles, CA
1947–1950
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1981
Died in Danbury, CT

Exhibitions

2012
Automaton, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne, Germany (group)
2009
Your Pal, Cliff: Selections from the H. C. Westermann Study Collection, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL
2006–2008
Dreaming of a Speech Without Words: The Paintings and Early Objects of H. C. Westermann, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI. Travelled to the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. (solo)
2005
Woman, “the sweetest flower”, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York, NY (solo)
H. C. Westermann, Woman “the sweetest flower”, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York (solo)
2001–2003
H.C. Westermann, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. Travelled to Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithosonian Institution; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston. Exhibition Catalogue and Catalogue raisone. (solo)
2002
H. C. Westermann: The Complete Lithographs, 1968-1972, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York, NY (solo)
2001
Eye Infection: Robert Crumb, Mike Kelley, Jim Nutt, Peter Saul, H.C. Westermann, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, curated by Christiaan Braun, Exhibition Catalogue by Christiaan Braun, essay by Robert Storr.
2000
See America First: The Prints of H.C. Westermann, curated by Dennis Adrian and Richard A. Born, The David and Alfred Smart Museum, The University of Chicago, IL. Traveled to The University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville, Laguna Art Museum, CA and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston. (solo)
H.C. Westermann Death Ship: Important Sculptures, Drawings, Prints, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York (solo)
Horsetales: American Images and Icons 1800 – 2000, Curated by Ezra Shales and Susan H.Edwards, Katonah Museum of Art, New York, Catalogue.
1998
H. C. Westermann: The Connecticut Ballroom and Related Works, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York (solo)
1996
Deformations: Aspects of the Modern Grotesque, Museum of Modern Art, NY
1994
Drawings by Bruce Nauman & H. C. Westermann, Lawrence Markey, New York
1988
H. C. Westermann: Sculpture and Drawing, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York, Catalogue (solo)
1980–1981
Who Chicago?, Camden Arts Center, London. Traveled to Geolfrith Gallery, Sunderland Arts Center; Eye Center, Glasgow; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Ulster Museum, Belfast, (catalogue).
1978–1979
H. C. Westermann, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Traveled to New Orleans Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; Seattle Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Catalogue: text by Barbara Haskell (solo)
1974
H. C. Westermann, James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles (solo)
1973
Wood-Works: An Exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture in Wood, Darthmouth College, Hanover, NH. Traveled to Addison Gallery, Phillips Andover Academy, MA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Paul Creative Arts Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH; The William Benton Museum of Art, The University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME (catalogue).
1972
10 Independents: An Artist Initiated Exhibition, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Catalogue: introduction by Dore Ashton.
1968
Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage, New York, Museum of Modern Art. Traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue: text by William S. Rubin.
H. C. Westermann, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA. Expanded version traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Catalogue: text by Max Kozloff. (solo)
1967
American Sculpture of the Sixties, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA. Traveled to Philadelphia Museum of Art, Catalogue.
1962
H. C. Westermann, Dilexi Gallery, Los Angeles (solo)
1958
H.C. Westermann: Recent Work, Catalogue with text by Dennis Adrian, Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago (solo)
1956
Sculpture by H. C. Westermann and Paintings by Ivan Mischo, 414 Art

Public Collections

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC
Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS
University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tuscon, AZ
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, NC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Literature

2001
Abrams, H.C. Westermann, Dennis Adrian & Michael Rooks
Abrams, H.C. Westermann; Exhibition Catalogue and Catalogue Raisonne of Objects, Lynne Warren & Michael Rooks
University of Chicago, See America First: The Prints of H.C. Westermann, Dennis Adrian
1997
H.C. Westermann – West, David King
1988
Timken Publishers, Letters from H.C. Westermann, Bill Barrette