Who Was Hannelore Baron?
I have no idea why I woke up the other morning with the name Hannelore Baron running through my mind; other than the fact that it does have a mellifluous quality to it. I couldn’t even picture her work, so obscure was she to me, but felt I had to look her up and find her place in “recent” art history.
She was born Hannelore Alexander in Dilligen, Germany in 1926, to Jewish parents who were the owners of a small textile shop. On Kristallnacht she saw the shop destroyed, her home ransacked and her father beaten with a hammer. A short while later the family was arrested by Nazis. When Baron later returned to the house (escorted by an S.S. officer), she found the furniture destroyed and her father’s bloody handprints on the wall. It was, she recalled later, a more traumatic experience than the actual events.
The family managed to get out of Europe alive and settled in the Bronx in 1941. Baron attended the Straubenmuller Textile High School in Manhattan, where she studied costume design. Soon after graduating, she began to experience symptoms of claustrophobia, anxiety and depression, from which she would suffer periodically for the rest of her life. She had the first of three nervous breakdowns not long after her 20th birthday. Stanford Report, July 10, 2002
From Artnet site: Leslie Feely Fine Art:
UNTITLED. 1969, Mixed Media. h: 7.8″ x w: 8.9″
After Kristallnacht, in 1938, her family fled, made their way out of Europe and settled in the United States in 1941. As a result of the Holocaust, she was claustrophobic. She hated nationalism, hated war and identified with war’s victims. During the Abstract Expressionist years, she painted in tempera. In 1958, she began making collages in which scraps of history, lined and stained with ink and covered with smears, were pasted and sewn together. From the 1989 New York Times Art section By MICHAEL BRENSON.
From Artnet. Manny Silverman Gallery:
UNTITLED. 1978, Mixed Media. h: 10.8″ x w: 8.5″
Baron needed to be inspired, and her inspiration usually came from materials she found in flea markets and junk yards. Her fabrics suggest untouched, raw or burned skin; some are striped like pillow ticking and the uniforms of prisoners. Her ability to suggest both the condition of entrapment and the possibility of release is remarkable. In an assemblage from 1985, the four upright pieces of wood that seem imprisoned in a box resemble sticks of dynamite. In a collage from 1978, we could be looking at a woman popping out of a corset, or a carelessly stitched wound.
It is her work’s fragility, both physical and spiritual-the sense of quiet, private anguish expressed through forlorn materials and cryptic, edgy scrawls-that has often been cited as the defining characteristic of Baron’s art.
– Michael Kimmelman, exhibition review, The New York Times, October 1, 1993
UNTITLED. 1980, Mixed Media Box Construction. 2 ¼” x 6 ⅛” x 6″
Baron’s style has been favorably compared with several other Modern masters. In her review for ARTnews of an exhibition of Baron’s work at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1989, critic Barbara A. MacAdam wrote, Klee’s earth tones and signs, Matisse’s blue, the intimate collaging of Kurt Schwitters, and Joseph Cornell’s boxes are all acknowledged, then personalized. Throughout there is a sense of unity-of opposites, of the living and the manmade, of the natural and the designed. absolutearts.com
From Artnet: Leslie Feely Fine Art:
UNTITLED. 1981, Mixed Media. h: 8″ x w: 6″
Baron has become known for the highly personal, intimately sized abstract collages and box constructions that she began exhibiting in the late 1960s. Her works from this time through 1987 (the year of her death) garnered her a reputation as a master of the collage medium. During her life, the ideas expressed in her work grew more complex, introspective and personal; while at the same time they communicated a universal message about nationalism, war, and cruelty. absolutearts.com
From Artnet: Leslie Feely Fine Art:
UNTITLED. 1981, Mixed Media. Wood, metal, paper, gesso, ink and string.
h: 8″ x w: 7″ x d: 2.5″
UNTITLED. 1983, Collage of etching fragments on paper with ink.
“Everything I’ve done is a statement on the, as they say, human condition…
UNTITLED. 1985, Mixed Media Collage. 8 5/8″ x 8 3/4″
When Ms.Baron died of cancer in 1987, the New York Times had this obituary: She described herself a pacifist and wanted her quietly intense work to convince others of the need to listen. She used letters as symbols of memory and birds as symbols of vulnerability and the need for song.
She had numerous solo shows in New York and last summer was a participant in ”Jewish Themes – Contemporary Artists II” at the Jewish Museum.
Her work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of American Art and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y.
She is survived by her husband, Herman; a son, Mark; a daughter, Julie; a brother, Hans, and two grandchildren.