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Al Hansen: In Search of the Goddess > Additional Information

Gracie Mansion Gallery

Al Hansen:
- Additional Information -

Contact: Gracie Mansion, Gracie Mansion Gallery, tel: 212-505-7055, fax: 212-477-0360, email:

Opening: 16 September, 6-9 p.m.

Al Hansen seemed to be everywhere all the time.

He studied music with John Cage in a class that included Dick Higgins, George Brecht and Jim Dine. He convinced Yoko Ono to accompany him to London’s "Destruction in Art Symposium" where she met her future husband. He wrote a book on performance titled "Happenings and Time Space Art" published in 1965. He was a member of the Rutgers University faculty for a number of years. His easygoing charm was a staple at both Warhol's Factory and Max's Kansas City. He moved to Hollywood in the mid 70's and became a fixture on the local punk scene. When Ronald Reagan was elected president he moved to Europe and vowed not to return until a new president was elected. Keeping his promise he founded an art school in Cologne, called "The Ultimate Akademy" which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Al Hansen died in 1995 in Cologne, Germany at the age of 67. During his lifetime, he was associated with Fluxus, Happenings, performance art, collage, assemblage and Pop Art.

Throughout all of his ramblings, ravings and forays into anything and everything avant-garde, one thing remained constant in his work: the female figure.  As he said, he was always " search of the goddess." Deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism, he embraced the idea of devoting your life to the realization of one image. In exploring this Goddess figure endlessly he felt connected through time to the first known art works: the fertility sculptures found in caves from Spain to the Ukraine.

"I continually explore and attack a small range of images and symbols in which, through myriad repetition with cheap construction paper, wrapping paper, magazine and newspaper, I set out, again and again and again, to perform a simple act."

This "simple act" was repeated on trains, in planes, in cafes and bars all over the world. Al Hansen was a seven-day a week, 24 hour a day artist. He believed passionately in the power of art to transform, to educate, to illuminate and to make you laugh. A survey of these Venus figures is at once disarming and enlightening. Hansen created virtually the same image over and over again for more than thirty years and yet each is unique. Whether making art from the detritus of life -- discarded Hershey bar wrappers, cigarette butts, burnt matches and crushed cans -- or from his own body’s materials, Hansen found the goddess and breathed life into her daily.

During the course of the exhibition, Fluxus artists Ben Vautier, Geoff Hendricks and others, will present special performance events.  Please call gallery for further information.

Coinciding with the show at Emily Harvey Gallery, Threadwaxing Space will exhibit Beck and Al Hansen: Playing with Matches, an exhibition of over 100 collages, assemblages, photographs, drawings, audio loops and videos by Beck and Al Hansen.  Beck, the Grammy winner, songwriter and musician is the grandson of Al Hansen.  The exhibition is accompanied by a 144 page, color illustrated book, Beck and Al Hansen: Playing with Matches, published by Plug-In Editions and Smart Art Press.

The hours for Emily Harvey Gallery are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm. 

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