Fannie Louise Hillsmith (she prefers to be called 'Fan') is the daughter of Clarence and Clara Hillsmith and the grandaughter of Frank Hill Smith and Clara Montfort Fay. She lives in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.|
Born in 1911, Fan was encouraged to pursue an interest in art by her mother, and undoubtedly by other members of her family. She attended the Boston Museum School, and in 1934 she obtained a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York City. After a short return to Boston, Ms. Hillsmith came back to New York, where she remained. Much later she alternated residence in New York City with summers in New Hampshire, eventually moving to her present residence.
Ms. Hillsmith's early works in New York City reflect the influence of cubist and abstract works which she saw in the galleries and museums. Her first solo exhibit was in 1943. She received favorable reviews from art critic Clement Greenberg, and her paintings were shown in galleries with such contemporaries as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Josef Albers. It was Josef Albers who invited Ms. Hillsmith to teach in the 1945 Black Mountain summer session.
Later she studied print making under Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 where Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro also made prints. In 1958 Ms. Hillsmith received the Boston Museum Schools Alumni Traveling Scholarship for a year in Europe.
Selections from Ms. Hillsmiths works show her range in abstract, surrealism, and cubism. If one thing marks the art of Hillsmith, it seems to be the constant drive to learn, to rethink and reshape her creations.