On 5 May 2011, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location an exhibition of
new paintings by HILARY HARKNESS.
With these new works, Harkness – renowned for her deployment of Old Master techniques
in service of a distinctly modern worldview – demonstrates a deepening of her craft and a
heightened interrogation of gender, history, war, and the sociocultural forces that shape
The show – Harkness’ fourth solo exhibition with Mary Boone Gallery – builds upon key
symbols and themes in her previous work, including WWII and the period immediately
preceding it, lushly detailed interior scenes that demonstrate the lived experience of
historical actors, as well as raw sexuality, power, and the importance of craftsmanship.
Anchoring the exhibition is a cycle of works that feature the life of Alice B. Toklas and
Gertrude Stein. Harkness’ meticulous research brings to life their transgressive and
tortured relationship, posh lifestyle and fine art collection, and eventual flight from the
Nazis as WWII raged. In Pleasing Papa, Harkness for the first time brings a historically
specific man into the mix, with a leering Ernest Hemingway (a protégé-turned-adversary
of Stein’s) flanking the ladies.
Harkness also explores the Eastern front of WWII with Red Sky in the Morning, a large
“cross-section” painting of the WWII Japanese battleship Yamato, which was sent on a
suicide mission toward Okinawa in 1945 (and, in Harkness’ telling, is populated with
samurai and geishas).