Hari Kidd Struggle Gouache on paper Gift of Edythe Kidd El Paso Museum of Art Collection

July 25, 2010 to November 29, 2010 – The El Paso Museum of Art

Hari (Harry) Matthew Kidd introduced the aesthetics of Modernism to El Paso in the early 20th Century. The gouache on paper paintings in this exhibition exemplify the artist’s modernist aesthetics, as well as, his opinions on war and social inequity. Identifying the fascist Nazi Party of Germany (1933-1945), several of Kidd’s paintings depict the frightening, crowded confines of a concentration camp and the intimidating, endless rows of robot-like soldiers before a reviewing stand. By not overtly identifying a specific group, Kidd broadens his discussion and crosses cultural boundaries, to include similar perpetrators of whatever race and nationality.

This series depicts several moments in the before, during, and after course of events occurring in war: scheming of diplomats, direct, hand-to-hand combat, and the wounded, imprisoned and dying. Kidd’s talent in design, his use of abstraction and unique depiction of space, allows these works to transcend their unsettling subject matter. His social consciousness elicits the viewer’s response.

Hari Kidd was born in Detroit, Michigan, but attended public schools in El Paso. At the outbreak of World War I he moved to Canada to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the War, he attended The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and received a scholarship to travel in Europe in the late 1920s. Kidd exhibited frequently thereafter, in group exhibitions throughout the United States. In 1940 the artist’s solo exhibition, Hari Kidd: Paintings, traveled to several museums in the Southwest. Shortly thereafter he moved to Key West, Florida. In 1964 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, and died there the same year. His works hold a special place in early 20th Century El Paso art, but also in the history of American Modernism.

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