Maurice Hansen died of leukemia on
October 15, 2000, one week after his 59th birthday, possibly caused by
the toxicity of the artist’s materials he had used over the years to
create his large-scale paintings and wall murals depicting hundreds of
miniature mythical scenes interlaced into overall themes of well-known
and popular fables.
As a well-known New Haven artist, his work had achieved a great deal of
local recognition with articles appearing in the New Haven Register,
later in the New Haven Advocate, every decade since 1958, when he was
photographed with his painting "Khruschev Eating the Dove of Peace."
art was exhibited in numerous galleries and public facilities from
to Baltimore during these years. Three months before his death, Hansen
featured in the New York Times in an article on Outsider artists. The
imagery in his work could easily identify him as a modern-day
Beginning in 1992, Maurice’s work began appearing in mainstream as well
as Outsider art exhibits in Connecticut and New York City. His mural
"Coney Island," measuring 8 by 30 feet, was displayed in Lincoln
Center’s Cork Gallery at Avery Fischer Hall in 1995. His work was often
represented by Margaret Bodell (formerly of New Haven’s Art in Heaven
gallery in the 1980’s,) at
her Greenwich Village gallery, and in her booth at the annual
International Outsider Art Fair in SoHo from the inceptions of each,
and at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In March 1993, Whitey Jenkins
curated a retrospective exhibit of his art work called "Inner Visions,"
which included 63 paintings and drawings spanning four decades, in the
3,000 square foot Aetna Conference Center Gallery in Hartford. Sal
Scalora, of the Atrium Gallery at Storrs, wrote the essay which was
included in the broadsheet for the show, and called the exhibit a "tour
Mr. Hansen’s work was featured in a solo show in May, 1994, at the York
Square Cinema Gallery and also in a group show there called "New Haven
Folk Aesthetic," in May, 1995. As a founding member of the Chris Butler
Group, his work was shown in "Cat Tales," in April, 1996, at New
Haven’s Connecticut Mental Health Center; at The Underground Gallery in
and at Bittersweet Farm in Branford, continuously from 1996 to 1999.
Hanen's paintings were also exhibited in Audart's "Art In The Raw" exhibition in the
Spring of 1997; a group show that was organized and curated by Chris
the Chris Butler Group in Branford, Connecticut.
Material on Maurice Hansen has also been included in Betty Carol
Sullen’s new reference book "Self-Taught and Outsider Artists of the
21st Century," published in 1999, and in magazines such as Provincetown
Art, Folk Art Finder, and the American Folk Art Museum’s publication,
Folk Art Magazine.
One of Mr. Hansen’s large-scale paintings is installed in the Wadsworth
Atheneum Museum, (in the stairwell landing leading to the Aetna Cinema
Theatre.) The piece, purchased by an Atheneum Board member, and donated
to the museum in 1996, is labeled only by its artist’s signature:
Mr. Hansen also produced an extensive and highly imaginative series of
video movies, still shown frequently on New Haven’s Citizen’s
Television, depicting his personal view of the lives of the world’s
most famous artists, often starring himself and the members of his pet
animal family, includes "Vincent Van Gogh," "Leonardo," "Raphael,"
"Michelangelo," and a surrealist film called "The Four Horsemen of
Hansen’s earless cat, named "Vincent," appeared in both his films and
his paintings. "Self-Portrait as Sherlock Holmes with Vin as Watson,"
instance, reveals the close companionship with his pets. Hansen's works
are full of humor and subtle yet profound meaning.
The extent and sheer quanta of miniaturized stories contained in Mr.
Hansen’s visionary powers, taking in their breadth the vastness of many
lives and many stories, clearly shape the need for a neo-logism to
illustrate the "maximal" quality of his universal view of humanity --
in its pathos, predicament, and folly.
(credit York Square Cinema
Gallery for the above
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