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Home / Exhibits / ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection (August 25 - October 25, 2020)

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection (August 25 - October 25, 2020)

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection is an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, through more than 40 inspiring paintings, sculptures, works on paper and photographs. The exhibition consists of four sections that dynamically frame the themes of this collection into accessible categories: Objects of Beauty; Material Illusions; Instruments of Satire; and Tools: An Extension of Self.


ReTooled celebrates the prevalence of tools in our lives with art that magically transforms utilitarian objects into fanciful works that speak of beauty, insight, and wit. Providing a dynamic entry point into the rich themes, materials and processes of 20th century art, ReTooled profiles 28 visionary artists from the Hechinger Collection including major artists such as Arman, Richard Estes, Howard Finster, Red Grooms, Jacob Lawrence, Fernand Léger and H.C. Westermann; photographers Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans; as well as pop artists Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. Some of the artists represent tools with reverence to accentuate their purity of design. Others transform and distort tools to highlight their tragic obsolescence in a technological age. But all of the works remind us that tools embody the can-do spirit that defines America and the quest to improve our quality of life.


The Hechinger Collection

John Hechinger’s father founded the Hechinger Hardware store in 1911, but it was John Hechinger along with his brother-in-law who grew the store into a renowned chain throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Hechinger is often credited as one of the major figures in the transformation of the neighborhood hardware store to the “do it yourself” home improvement business. A fourth generation Washingtonian, community patron and activist, John Hechinger was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be the first chairman of the D.C. City Council. He used his position to advocate for civil rights and diverse neighborhoods. Hechinger’s donation of his collection to IA&A for the purpose of sharing it with a broader public is yet another invaluable legacy.


In the 1980s, John Hechinger’s booming chain of hardware stores led him to purchase a new company headquarters. He found the offices to be efficient, but sterile.  The barren space sparked an initiative to beautify the headquarters which launched Hechinger’s acquisition of a tool-inspired collection of diverse 20th century art. 


This exhibition is curated by Jared Packard-Winkler and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington D.C.

Pictured above: Jacob Lawrence, Carpenters, 1977, lithograph. Photo courtesy of Joel Breger.

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