The man Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a Latvian immigrant from a family of 13 and a widowed mother, established the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. His passion for collecting art started at the age of 18. This love affair could be fed only because Mr. Hirshhorn became a successful businessperson. At the age of thirteen, he started a newspaper route, and then a few years later accepted a job on Wall Street in New York. After saving up $225, at the age of sixteen he invested it all and became a stockbroker. By the end of the 1940’s he had invested in the Canadian Mining business and established his status as a wealthy man.
Joseph Hirshhorn’s first pieces of art, two etchings by Albrecht Durer, were purchased for the price of $75. He would continue to acquire other paintings, photographs and sculptures from friends and acquaintances as a form of appreciation for his various assistance and financial help. He would also travel abroad visiting the studio of well-known artists such as Pablo Picasso.
Not until 1962 were Hirshorn’s sculptures known to the general public. His first major exhibition was at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He eventually gave the Smithsonian Institution his modern art collection. Four years later in 1966, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden developed as a part of the Smithsonian. The museums establishment was strongly supported by Lady Bird and President Lyndon B. Johnson and an Act of Congress. It was not available to the public until the doors opened in 1974. Since Hirshhorn’s first donation of his collections, the museum has gained close to 12,000 pieces of art.
Gordon Bunshaft, a 1933 MIT graduate and Pritzker Prize-winning architect, designed the Hirshhorn Museum. Mr. Bunshaft was an avid art collector himself and took interest in works that were simplistic and functional rather than ostentatious pieces. The concept of the building was considered “a large piece of functional sculpture”. (Hirshhorn) Inside the hollow, cylindrical 60,000 square feet, four level building viewers can observe the curved galleries, located on the second and third floor. These galleries are homes to primarily painting works of art. Inside the structure, you will also find the building is elevated 14 feet above the ground by four colossal sculptured pillars. On the 2.7 acres grounds beneath the structure you will find manicured landscaping that displays the museums sculpture garden. Across the street, the sculpture garden continues on another sunken 1.3 acres. The entire museum, inside and out, is a total of 197,000 square feet of exhibition area. It is located beside the national Mall in Washington D.C. and exactly halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol Building.
One artist whose creations are displayed in the sculpture garden is Joan Miro. Born in Catalonia near Barcelona, Spain in 1883, Miro was drawn to art at an early age. He flourished in creativity over academics attending his first art classes by the age of seven. As he matured his parents request was for him to enroll in business school, which he pacified, but three short years later he suffered from debilitating stress cause by intense studying and a forceful work ethic. After this breakdown, he abandoned the commerce world and dedicated his life to making art. In 1912, he enrolled in art school. Despite his passion for art, his first show was a disaster. When he entered his first paintings in 1918 at the Dalman Gallery, they were mocked and vandalized. He gained zero profit as none of his paintings sold.
Such artists as Paul Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh amongst others inspired Joan. He favored painting landscapes interpreting particularly subtle colors and linear movement. One canvas, titled The Farm- inspired by his parents farm in Paris- was later purchased by Ernest Hemmingway.
In 1924, Miro changed his artistic style from the geometric cubist vein to painting in a