Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966

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Hilaire Hiler, painter, costume and set designer, muralist, musician, writer and psychologist was born Hiler Harzberg in St. Paul, Minn. Lived in various places in the United States including Santa Fe, N.M.; also lived in Paris, France where he died in 1966.

From the description of Papers, 1849-1966; (bulk 1920-1940). (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 33849956

Mural painter, designer, decorator, writer.

From the description of Hilaire Hiler articles and letter, 1936-1939. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83634723

Mural painter, designer, decorator, writer; New York, N.Y. and Paris.

From the description of Hilaire Hiler papers, 1925-1966. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80242395

Hilaire Hiler, painter, costume and set designer, muralist, musician, writer and psychologist was born Hiler Harzberg in St. Paul, Minnesota, July 16, 1898. During his infancy his family moved to Providence, Rhode Island. There his father, Meyer Hiler sold his interest in a jewelry firm to start a vaudevillian production show.

As a child Hiler attended the Rhode Island School of Design and was a private pupil of the Marquis de la Jarre.Hiler attended the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. Hiler also attended life drawing classes at William Server's studio, a semester at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a following semester at the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art. After the armistice was declared he moved to New York where he met Wynn Holcomb, a well known caricaturist. Holcomb offered him the opportunity to help coordinate a monthly spread on Paris for Shadowland magazine.

It was 1919 when Hilaire found himself on the left bank in Paris as a jazz saxophonist. He continued to play jazz during his travels to Berlin and Copenhagen and was also involved with costume and mask design, circuses and clowning. This was the beginning of a wanderlust, transient lifestyle.

An increasing amount of hatred, hostility and prejudice against Jews caused the Harzbergs to camouflage their religious heritage. So in 1928 when Hilaire's parents, Meyer and Kay, came to join their son in Paris, the Harzberg family formally changed their name to Hiler.

Hiler's tenure in Paris was spent assimilating the theories of various post-cubist movements. Hiler is most recognized for his leadership in the "Precisionist" movement. The Precisionist painters were using the forms of urban industry in their efforts to achieve some sense of a new reality. Hiler's paintings of this period express a folk like quality. The Precisionist prided themselves on rude vitality, stark simplicity, and no attempt to be realistic. Linear perspective for the Precisionist is disregarded.

Moreover, the precisionist movement that Hiler participated in often left the human figure to look like cutouts, evoking a child like innocence. Hiler's ideas about abstract art were also taking shape in several articles published in various little magazines in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Among those that were published include, From Nudity to Raiment, An Introduction to the Study of Costume, 1929 and Notes on the Technique of Painting, 1934. He wrote for California Arts and Architecture magazine and in 1940 published a textbook, Color Harmony and Pigments. In 1945 he published Why Abstract?, Manifesto of Psychromantic Design, and Why Expressionism?. In 1936 Hiler was back in the United States and embarked on a W.P.A. 4000 foot mural for the San Francisco Aquatic Park.In 1944 he started Hiler College in Santa Fe, the same year that he received a B.A. from Golden State University. He received his Ph.D from the same institution in 1948. In 1947 he opened Fremont University in Los Angeles and served as president until 1951 when he returned to Santa Fe and changed the name of Hiler College to Fremont College. During the 1940's Hiler continued his pursuit of psychology through study with Alfred Korzybski at the Institute of General Semantic in Chicago in 1945 and the University of Denver in 1949. In 1953 Hiler left Santa Fe and retreated to Puebla, Mexico. In 1958, his good friend Waldemar George produced, Hilair Hiler and Structuralism, containing essays about the evolution of Hiler's work. After travels to the Canary Islands and Dublin, Hiler returned to Paris, where he died in 1966. Several posthumous retrospectives have been held in 1968, 1977 and 1985.

From the guide to the Hilaire Hiler Papers, 1849-1966 (bulk 1920-1940), (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Cunningham, Ben, 1904-1975. Ben Cunningham interview, 1964 Oct. 24. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Conant, Howard Somers, 1921-. Howard Somers Conant papers, [ca.1946]-1985. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Holty, Carl, 1900-1973. Carl Holty papers, circa 1860s-1972 (bulk 1940-1967). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books, 1937-1997. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Kadish, Reuben, 1913-. Reuben Kadish papers, 1851-1995 (bulk 1913-1995). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966. Hilaire Hiler papers, 1925-1966. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Cunningham, Ben, 1904-1975. Ben Cunningham papers, 1904-1984. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, ca. 1933-1997. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Rattner, Abraham. Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers, 1891-1986. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966. Hilaire Hiler : artist file : study photographs and reproductions of works of art with accompanying documentation 1930?-1990 [graphic] [compiled by staff of The Museum of Modern Art, New York]. Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection
referencedIn Miller, Henry, 1891-1980. Papers of Henry Miller [manuscript] 1932-1964. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Cunningham, Ben, 1904-1975,. Oral history interview with Ben Cunningham, 1964 Oct. 24 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Jonson, Raymond, 1891-1982. Raymond Jonson papers, 1910-1964. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966 : artist file. The Barnes Foundation, Barnes Foundation Libraries and Special Collections
referencedIn Gaskin, William, 1892-1968. William Gaskin interviews, 1964 Feb. 28. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Carl Holty papers, circa 1860s-1972 (bulk 1940-1967) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966. Hilaire Hiler articles and letter, 1936-1939. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Reuben Kadish papers, 1851-1995 (bulk 1913-1995) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers, 1891-1986 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Ayer, Richard, 1909-. Oral history interview with Richard Ayer, 1964 Sept. 26. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966. Papers, 1849-1966; (bulk 1920-1940). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Gaskin, William, 1892-1968. Oral history interview with William Gaskin, 1964 Feb. 28. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hilaire Hiler Papers, 1849-1966 (bulk 1920-1940) University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith America's Artists in Particular. corporateBody
associatedWith Ayer, Richard, 1909- person
associatedWith Birren, Faber, 1900- person
associatedWith Boldt, O'Brien. person
associatedWith Boyle, Kay, 1902- person
associatedWith Conant, Howard Somers, 1921- person
associatedWith Connelly, Marc, 1890- person
associatedWith Crosby, Caresse, 1892- person
associatedWith Cunard, Nancy, 1896-1965. person
associatedWith Cunningham, Ben, 1904-1975. person
associatedWith Federal Art Project (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ferren, John, 1905-1970. person
associatedWith Flax, Jerome. person
associatedWith Foundation for Integrated Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Gaskin, William, 1892-1968. person
associatedWith Herz, Jay H. person
associatedWith Hiler, Mayer person
associatedWith Hiler, Meyer. person
associatedWith Hirschfeld, Al. person
associatedWith Holty, Carl, 1900-1973. person
associatedWith Inverarity, Robert Bruce, 1909- person
associatedWith Jonson, Raymond, 1891-1982. person
associatedWith Kadish, Reuben, 1913- person
associatedWith Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001. person
associatedWith Kuh, Katharine. person
associatedWith Lavell, Charles. person
associatedWith Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964. person
associatedWith Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955. person
associatedWith Levi, Albert William, 1911- person
associatedWith Mathews, Paul. person
associatedWith Miller, Henry, 1891- person
associatedWith Moran, Jim. person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Rattner, Abraham. person
associatedWith Ray, Man, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967. person
associatedWith Reuben Kadish person
associatedWith Schapiro, Meyer, 1904- person
associatedWith Schnakenberg, H. E. (Henry Ernest), 1892-1970. person
associatedWith Snow, C. P. (Charles Percy), 1905- person
associatedWith Varèse, Edgard, 1883-1965. person
associatedWith Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946. person
associatedWith Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963. person
associatedWith Wittenborn, George, 1905-1974. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
France--Paris
United States
Subject
Artists
Federal aid to the arts
Painting, Modern--20th century--United States
Precisionism
Mural painting and decoration--20th century
Art and state
Art, Abstract
Painting, American--20th century
Art, American
Art--History
Mural painters
Painters--United States
Art--American (?)--Reproductions
Painters
Occupation
Painter
Function

Person

Birth 1898

Death 1966

Americans

English

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