Hilary Harnischfeger

Australia 1972


Hilary Harnischfeger
Hilary Harnischfeger
February 28, 2015

Hilary Harnischfeger is an Australian-born artist, known for her work that combines clay with plaster, paper and minerals to create sculptural work that is abstract in its materiality.

Hilary Harnischfeger was born in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia. Houston-raised Harnischfeger earned a BFA from the University of Houston, 2001, and an MFA from Columbia University, 2003, and in 2007 was awarded the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space program award.

Hilary Harnischfeger’s ceramic sculptures are heavily influenced by the landscape, appearing at times elemental and primitive as if they were mined or excavated from the earth itself. Harnischfeger’s sensibility is emphasized in her sculptures, in which the plaster appears slapdash, cast into gawky, slumpy, engaging poses. A closer look at their surface, however – at the interplay between rough and smooth, at the sometimes faded, sometimes vibrant color spectrum, at the nooks and bumps formed by layers of inked paper and embedded and picked away pieces – reveals the artist’s interest in the tension between control and release. For Harnischfeger, happenstance will forever be curbed by intention, while intention will forever be foiled by material eccentricity.

Harnischfeger’s abstractions on paper are equal parts drawings, paintings, and bas-reliefs. Hovering between the beautiful and the homely, the formal and the corporeal, the mythical and the awkward, Harnischfeger’s pieces evoke mysterious, silent fossils, dug up and reanimated via the artist’s hand.

Made of layers of paper dipped in water and ink, chunks of plaster, glass and crystal shards and pieces of rock and quartz, Harnischfeger’s wall works bristle with the taut energy borne of multiple materials situated over and against each other – built up, carved into and painted over. Drawing on varied influences, from Byzantine icons and Japanese Kenzan earthenware to Arthur Dove’s abstracted landscapes to Morandi’s still lives, Harnischfeger’s wall pieces are considered but also physically immediate. They bear the marks of their maker’s careful process, while acquiring an anthropomorphic, sensual force all their own.

Hilary Harnischfeger had her first New York solo show at Never Work gallery in 2008. She has participated in several group shows, among them shows at Elizabeth Dee gallery, New York, Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, Ballroom Marfa, Texas, Artists Space, New York, and Grimm Fine Art, Amsterdam.

Harnischfeger currently resides in Granville, Ohio and Brooklyn, New York.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2014East Coast CrushHalsey McKay, East Hampton, NYSolo
2014Commito and HarnischfegerNative Cleveland Annex, Cleveland, OHSolo
2014Ghost CurrentV1 Gallery, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
2014East Side to the West SideFLAG Art Foundation, New York, NYGroup
2014Commito and HarnischfegerNative Cleveland Annex, Cleveland, OHGroup
2013Visiting Artist SeriesAmerican University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DCSolo
2013Paint Off, Paint OnHalsey McKay, East Hampton, NYGroup
2013Realization is Better than AnticipationMOCA Cleveland, OH,Group
2013DOWNTOWN: A View of New York's Lower East SideJames Cohan Gallery, Shanghai, China Group
2013nvitational Exhibition of Visual ArtsAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NYGroup
2012Hilary Harnischfeger and Tommy WhiteFront Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
2012Stretching PaintingGalerie Lelong, New York, NYGroup
2011Hilary HarnischfegerRachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2011Papertails80 WSE, New York, NYGroup
2011Monkey WrenchHorton Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010GuatavitaEleven Rivington, New York, NYGroup
2010SeedlingsDallas Contemporary, Dallas, TXGroup
2009Hilary HarnischfegerRachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2009Abstract, AbstractFoxy Production, New York, NYGroup
2009This is… Your… This… is My…University of Texas at San Antonio, Satellite SpaceGroup
2009Structured SimplicityDumbo Arts Center (DAC), Brooklyn, NYGroup
2009Hi, Low and In BetweenGrimm Fine Art, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
2008Hilary HarnischfegerNeverwork, New York, NY Solo
2008The Split WallSouth First Gallery, Williamsburg, NYSolo
2008The Grey House That Thinks Itself into Your Head Without AskingPace University, New York, NYGroup
2008Jesuvian ProcessElizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2007The Line of TimeHarris Lieberman and Wallspace Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2005You Are HereBallroom, Marfa, TXGroup
2005Hunch & FlailArtists Space, New York, NYGroup
2004Mommy, I’m Not A MonsterCapsule Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2004Summery, SummaryBrooklyn, NYGroup
2003MFA Thesis ShowColumbia University, New York, NYGroup
2003Pertaining to PaintingAustin Museum of Art, Austin, TXGroup
2002Pertaining to PaintingContemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TXGroup
2002First Year MFA ShowWallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, NY, NYGroup
2001Hilary HarnischfegerMoody Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
2001Big as TexasDiverse Works Art Space, Houston, TXGroup
2001Dishman CompetitionLamar University, Beaumont, TXGroup
2000The Big ShowLawndale Art and Performance Center, Houston, TXGroup