Since Al's death in 1995, I have received thousands of
cards, letters and emails from friends, students and fans around the
world. They attest to his amazing generosity of spirit and self.
Fellow artists' most common comment regarding Al Hansen
applauds his stamina and the time and energy he devoted to his students
and the young artists he always seemed to attract and be attracted to.
Ever striving for an egalitarian ideal, Al preferred to call them young or
developing artists; he thought of them always as young contemporaries.
Wherever Al Hansen went, an instant community of active and energetic
young people sprung up around.
Throughout Al Hansen's life he ran an off-the-cuff, subversive,
underground unofficial academy of sorts. For the most part it operated out
of coffeehouses and bars, in and around schools and on street corners. As
often as not these "schools" existed wherever Al himself
happened to be at the moment, and had little tangible assets outside of Al
and his "students", though each was usually documented by logos,
rubber stamps, business cards and sometimes even newspaper ads.
Hollywood Institute for
Contemporary Arts. Energy Systems for Creative Expressors, Museum
of the Year 2000: Post-Civilization Art, Women's Art
Collection, Action Art & Body Art Documentation, Al Hansen Foundation.
The Skandinavian Basic Research
Institute was his title for activities in Skandinavia and during his visit
to an Eskimo art school on Greenland at Nuuk, Godthap.
Hansen: Psycholinguistic Research, 110 Washington Street, Newark, New
Jersey 07102. This was the title of his operations while he was teaching
at Rutgers University.
Institute for Contemporary Art. Psycho-Socio-Meta Energy Systems,
Al Hansen--Director (by appointment only) 7021
Lanewood Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028
Hansen, 3rd Rail Time-Space Arts, 431 West B'way, SOHO 10012
Ever fascinated and endlessly beguiled by art and the art
process, Al enjoyed the company of these fervent and eager newcomers and
delighted in provoking, challenging and encouraging them to work and be
involved with art and art-making. His ebullience captivated and enthused.
He passionately believed in an art world system that was open and
accessible. He stressed to young artists the importance of getting out and
around and becoming known and integrated into the arts community.
He could generally be seen most weekends in NYC throughout the
60's and most of the 70's with a gang of young people in tow, traipsing
from gallery to gallery, exultantly soaking up the atmosphere and the art.
Whenever possible Al made it a point to introduce and connect these young
people up with more established art community members.
It perplexed him when artists who had been fortunate enough to
attain success and access would then, so often, refuse to help others
along the way or even sometimes, go out of their way to bar others from
achieving even the tiniest step forward. He stood against those
narrow-minded and dogmatic types jealously guarding the gallery and museum
entrance, seeking to hinder and constrain the untried, untested and the
new. He felt that closing things off and preventing access to all but a
lucky few, was a contraction that stunted human art evolution.
Al believed in a world of endless possibilities and limitless
opportunities. Over the years he inspired many others to embrace his
audacious optimism and to cheerfully question anyone and everyone who
thought otherwise. In an artworld that is often petty and exclusionary,
consumed by prestige-chasing, careerism and selfish ambition, Al Hansen
fought for inclusion, collaboration and support for new art and new
artists. Often acting against his best interests, he sought to fling wide
the gates to the ivory tower and open it to all that were inclined to
Al's supportive embrace and celebration extended to his older
peers as well. Armin Hundertmark, a Cologne art dealer, once confided that
even though Al rarely had very much money, when a sale was arranged and Al
was paid, often his first order of business was to spend a healthy part of
it on other artists' artwork and editions purchased from Hundertmark.
When Al left us on June 20, 1995 the world lost an ardent and
irrepressible art champion. To commemorate and celebrate the man and his
work, I propose and offer a series of Actions to be done in Al
- Take a hungry artist to lunch.
- Encourage a developing artist.
- Lend a broke artist some money.
- Praise a young artist to an important establishment person.
- Introduce a young artist to an important establishment person.
- Insist that a younger unknown artist be included in a group show.
- Include a new artist in an activity of your own.
- Sponsor an exhibition devoted to the work of new artists.