H.C. Westerman, American, 1922-1981
Much of Westermann's work harks back directly or indirectly to his experiences in the Marine Corps from 1942-1946. During his service as a gunner on the carrier "Enterprise" he witnessed bombings and kamikaze attacks at close hand. After a second tour of duty (in Korea) Westermann returned to Chicago to study fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago (where he had previously studied advertising and design).
Westermann is best known for his deftly crafted sculptural works that candidly address a range of heady themes - the likes of death, love, and the American Dream (or, in his words, "a country gone nuts"). Westermann dishes up his work not only with consummate craftsmanship, but with humor, puns, and irony. The box for this portfolio was
hand-crafted by Westermann, and so we have included an image of it as well as of the title page and the five woodcuts of the suite itself.
"The Connecticut Ballroom" comprises a summary of the artist's highly personal visual world and a sustained demonstration of his love of craft. The six woodcuts (most of them printed in colors from several blocks) are peppered with his most often used subjects and symbols, including: anchors, death ships, shark fins, airplanes, wrecks, skulls, rats, dogs or coyotes, ravens, dead trees, cactuses and exotic tropical plants, crocodiles, dinosaurs, lightning bolts, celestial objects, mesas, volcanoes, and icebergs. This threatening world of extremes, where all species court extinction, is only somewhat relieved by Westermann's aloof humor.