H. C. Westermann

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H. C. Westermann
Born (1922-12-11)December 11, 1922
Los Angeles, California
Died November 3, 1981(1981-11-03) (aged 58)
Danbury, Connecticut
Nationality American
Education School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Known for Printmaking, Sculpture
Nouveau Rat Trap by H. C. Westermann, 1965, birch plywood, rosewood, metal, rubber bumpers, Honolulu Museum of Art

H. C. Westermann (Horace Clifford "Cliff" Westermann) (December 11, 1922 – November 3, 1981) was an American printmaker and sculptor whose art constituted a scathing commentary on militarism and materialism. His sculptures frequently incorporated traditional carpentry and marquetry techniques.


Westermann worked in logging camps as a rail worker in the Pacific Northwest. During World War II he served as a gunner in the U.S. Marine Corps on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, witnessing numerous kamikaze attacks and the sinking of several ships. He toured the Far East as an acrobat with the United Service Organization, and enrolled in The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947.

In 1950, Westermann re-enlisted in the Marines for service in the Korean War. After his discharge, he returned to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1952–54) and completed his studies in fine art where he worked primarily in painting, transitioning to sculpture in 1954.[1] The psychological effects of his wartime experiences were an underlying theme in his work.

Working as a handyman as a young adult and noticing little interest in quality workmanship on the part of his clients, Westermann took to making objects at home for his own satisfaction.[2]

In 1967, he was one of the celebrities featured on the cover of the Beatles' album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Westermann resisted providing interpretation of his works of art. In one interview, when asked what an object meant, Westermann replied "It puzzles me too."[3]

He was given a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1978.

Westermann is the subject of Pentimenti Production's upcoming film, directed by Leslie Buchbinder.[4]


  • Untitled (in the manner of Salvador Dalí), about 1948
  • Theatrical Worlds Spirit after Bernardino Jacobi, about 1949
  • A Soldier’s Dream (sculpture), 1955 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Dismasted Ship, 1956
  • Ensor’s Mother, 1956
  • Untitled (“Unusual Physician”), 1957
  • He Whore, 1957
  • Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, 1958
  • Mad House, 1958
  • Burning House, 1958
  • Battle of Little Big Horn, 1959
  • Angry Young Machine, 1959
  • Destructive Machine from Under the Sea, 1959
  • Hard of Hearing Object (sculpture), 1961 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Disasters in the Sky #2, 1962
  • Machine for Calculating Risk, 1962
  • Clean Air, 1964
  • Walnut Box, 1964
  • Antimobile, 1965
  • Korean KAI ASH, 1965
  • Death Ship of No Port, 1967
  • Green Planet (Green Planet π), 1967
  • Woman from Indianapolis (Columbia, Missouri), 1967
  • See America First - a series, 1968
  • Untitled (This Great Rock was Buried Once for a Million Years) (sculpture), 1968 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Hammer in Box, 1970
  • An Affair in the Islands (watercolor), 1972 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • U.F.O. Landing in Africa (sculpture), 1974 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • The Connecticut Ballroom, 1975–76
  • H.C.W. (Poster Project) (watercolor), 1977 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Escape Down the Still River (watercolor), 1979 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Woman Descending into Paradise (watercolor), 1979 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • They Couldn't Put “Humpty Dumpty” Back Together Again (sculpture), 1980 (Honolulu Museum of Art)
  • Jack of Diamonds, 1981

See also[edit]


  • Haskell, Barbara. H.C. Westermann. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1978.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Demetrion, James T. (1985). Selected Paintings, Sculptures and Works on Paper. Des Moines Art Center. p. 212. ISBN 0-9614615-0-0. 
  2. ^ New York Times Obituary by Grace Glueck; November 1981
  3. ^ New York Times Obituary by Grace Glueck; November 1981
  4. ^ "H.C. Westermann | Pentimenti". www.pentimentiproductions.org. Retrieved 2015-12-07.