Bruce Museum Opens ‘ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection’

The Bruce Museum’s fall exhibition, “ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection,” opens on Saturday, Sept. 22, and will be on view through Saturday, Dec. 30.

Featuring more than 40 richly imaginative, quirky, and thought-provoking paintings, sculptures, photographs, and sketches, ReTooled celebrates the prevalence of tools in our lives with art that magically transforms utilitarian objects into fanciful works that speak of beauty, insight, and wit.

ReTooled includes major artists such as Arman, Richard Estes, Howard Finster, Red Grooms, Jacob Lawrence, and Fernand Léger; photographers Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans; as well as pop artists Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist. Some of these artists portray tools with reverence to emphasize their purity of design, while others disfigure and transform implements to highlight their obsolescence in today’s world of glass, steel, and technology.

The Bruce will host an Opening Reception for Museum members on Friday, Sept. 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m., and will complement the exhibition with a series of lectures and films throughout the fall. The programs include:

Thursday, Oct. 4, 6 to 8 pm. Art Lecture: Tools as Art. Sarah Tanguy, former curator of Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection, explores how she and John Hechinger, Sr. developed this collection with a broad, intergenerational appeal into a unique time capsule that traces the use of tools as a hallmark of civilization and a source of artistic creativity. Reception 6:00 pm, lecture 6:30 pm. followed by Q&A. Advance registration required. Bruce members and students with ID free; nonmembers $15.

Monday, Oct. 15, 10 to 11 a.m. Monday Morning Lecture Series: Claes Oldenburg’s Pop Monuments to the Tool. Antonia Pocock, PhD candidate at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, will explore the tool as a Pop motif, addressing its role in Oldenburg’s work in comparison to that of his peers, Red Grooms, Jim Dine, and James Rosenquist. Advance registration required. Bruce members and students (with ID) free; nonmembers $10 (includes Museum admission). Galleries will be open for one hour following the lecture.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. Art Lecture: Workman’s Comp: Jim Dine and Hardware. Lecturer Susan Tallman is editor-in-chief of the journal Art in Print and author of The Contemporary Print: from Pre-Pop to Postmodern. She is an adjunct Associate Professor of Art History, Theory, Criticism, and Printmedia at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Reception 6:00 pm, lecture 6:30 pm, followed by Q&A. Advance registration required. Bruce Museum members and students with ID, free; nonmembers $15.

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 10:30 to 11 a.m. ReTooled Film Series. Jacob Lawrence: The Glory of Expression (28 minutes). Just a few years before his death in 2000, painter Jacob Lawrence opened his studio to documentary filmmaker, Linda Freeman, who produced a unique view inside the work of this great American Modernist. Registration required. Films are free for all, but do not include Museum admission.

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. ReTooled Film Series. Paradise Garden (80 minutes). Celebrated folk artist and preacher Howard Finster created paintings, mixed-media assemblages, and “environments” that merged his religious beliefs with pop-culture and personal imagery. Registration required. Films are free for all, but do not include Museum admission.

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6 to 8 p.m. Art Lecture: ReTooled. David Furchgott, President and Founder of International Arts & Artists, will discuss the acquisition and management of the Hechinger Collection by IA&A. Reception at 6 p.m., discussion at 6:30, followed by Q&A. Advance registration required. Museum members and students with ID free; nonmembers $15.

The Collection was brought together in the 1980s by John Hechinger, owner of a hardware store chain in the Mid-Atlantic region. Hechinger is often credited as one of the major figures in the transformation of the neighborhood hardware store to the “do-it-yourself” home improvement business. His intent to beautify a new company headquarters led to the acquisition of a tool-inspired collection of diverse 20th-century art.

Hechinger later donated his collection to International Arts & Artists, a non-profit arts service organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, art institutions and the public.

To become a Bruce Museum member and receive an invitation to the Members Opening on Sept. 21 or to qualify for member discounts to related programs and special events, please visit or contact Laura Freeman, Membership Manager, at or 203-413-6764.

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