The Assemblage Poet
NORMAN HASSELRIIS (1918 - 2006) was a poet, a sculptor, a publishing executive, and a highly idiosyncratic artist who created thousands of whimsically exuberant "outsider" works. Norman was something of a cult figure to those aware of the existence of his small, out-of-the way, hugely personal environment in Oak Hill, New York, where he lived and worked for twenty-three years: a place that remains exactly as he left it, with every corner filled with his whimsical Dada.
Norman grew up in Forest Hill, New York. He comes from a creative Danish family. Norman's father Malthe Hasselriis (1888-1970) illustrated books and magazines in the United States during the 30's and 40's. He also painted miniature portraits on ivory and was commissioned by many famous people, including Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Pearl Buck, and J.F. Kennedy. His Aunt Else Hasselriis (1878-1952) was a silhouette artist who illustrated numerous books. She also was an artist for the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Company.
BEST DESCRIBED BY CAROLYN BENNETT WRITTIN IN THE WINDHAM JOURNAL,
DECEMBER 5, 1991
“Neo-Dada In Oak Hill -Toward Redefining the Dada Spirit”
He's a poet and a sculptor (more poet than anything else, he insists, but his definition of poetry is so broad that it's likely to encompass the world); he's a shaper and a "Trickster" - a literary Coyote in the finest word-forging fashion. He's a child of Dada and a Dada to his students. He's an Oak Hill resident, a Greene County artist, a gallery owner and former antiquarian book dealer, a photographer and businessman. A gardener. A self-defined adventurer. (I'm a Norman, after all.") A seeker. A maker of things. But such fun things, you can't imagine.
Picture this: The artist creating a new vision from a variety of materials and objects such as dolls, toys, shoes, baskets, cow horns, callipers, boxes, sheers, scissors, bird cages, musical instruments, strap hinges and harness hooks, hardware, tools, fiddle heads, beads, keys and copper liquor stills. What are his techniques? Dis-placement, condensation, free asso-ciation: the entire legacy of Freud's own interior adventures. Add to that a sense of humor and a soup-con of surprise.