VISIT | EXHIBITION

Tools As Art: Work and Play

Exhibition NOTES

Tools As Art: Work and Play

Drawn from the remarkable collection of John Hechinger, a hardware store magnate, and art collector, the 50 featured works in the exhibition present images of the most familiar tools as extraordinary works of art. Encompassing photographs, paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, the exhibition celebrates the value of labor and honors the creativity of builders, artists, hobbyists, and self-reliant DIYers. Featured artists include Colleen Barry, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Maria Porges, James Surls, and Wayne Thiebaud. The renowned art collection of the late hardware magnate John Hechinger exemplifies this practical and artistic universality. Over his long career, Hechinger devoted much of his energy, playfulness, and passion to this collection, seeking out works from numerous genres and artists of many backgrounds, all of them bound by a common theme: the democracy of the tool. In Work and Play, curator Sarah Tanguy explores interlocking principles: tools as icons of labor; labor as a component of creativity; creativity as a form of play; and the art of tools as the most incisive expression of their interrelatedness. This exhibition celebrates the virtues inherent in the art of the tool and highlights the astounding breadth of the Hechinger Collection by illuminating this unique, but ubiquitous, idiom.

Tools as Art: Work and Play is organized from the Hechinger Collection and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.


 

ABOUT THE HECHINGER COLLECTION—

The complete Hechinger Collection, featuring nearly 400 works of art, was donated to IA&A in 2003 by hardware-industry pioneer John Hechinger, Sr. The collection’s contemporary prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures represent a wealth of 20th-century art that incorporates tools and hardware by artists Berenice Abbott, Arman, Jim Dine, Walker Evans, Jacob Lawrence, Fernand Leger, and Claes Oldenburg, among others. The collection celebrates the ubiquity of tools in our lives with art that magically transforms utilitarian objects into fanciful works of beauty, surprise, and wit.


 

This project is supported in part by federal award number 21.027 awarded to Knox County by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Arts & Culture Alliance, and by the federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

IMAGE HEADER: Claes Oldenburg, KnifeShip, 1986, oil paint on saw, 30.5″ X 36.25″ X 2,” © Claes Oldenburg.