Hersey, John

  • “Probable Location of Erato” 1978, 66 x 84 inches
  • “Starry Night” 2008, 72 x 96 inches
  • “Return to Return, (Don't do it)” 1985, 84 x 64 inches
  • Hersey Haiku house (site of exhibition) | Hersey Haiku House was envisioned, designed and built by John Hersey Jr. To see John’s art within the house that he built is a unique opportunity that may never happen again.
  • “Three Women” Gouache on Arches paper, 44 x 72 inches, 1988
  • “Reclined Torso” Chalk on paper, 18 x 12 inches, 1975
  • “Eurydice” Etching on Arches paper, 10 x 8 inches, 1998
  • “Gazing Right” Charcoal on paper, 24 x 18 inches, 1993
  • “Head at Bottom” Sanguine wash on Arches paper, 58 x 44 inches, 1994

American Contemporary

Using the phrase “physical lyricism” to describe his earlier work, John Hersey is best known for his larger scale abstract paintings. Although his cast bronze and welded steel sculpture carries much of the feeling of that period, his more recent paintings have been primarily figurative. Throughout, John Hersey has continued his drawing, etching and photography.

John Hersey was born in 1943 in New York City to China born author/journalist John Hersey and North Carolinian Francis Ann Cannon. John Hersey practiced drawing under Victor de Pau in East Hampton, NY and works for a building contractor constructing houses before entering Yale University as an Art and Architecture major. During his undergraduate years, John Hersey worked for the architect John M. Johansen, A.I.A., for two consecutive summers. He travels throughout Europe in 1963. In 1964 John Hersey studies drawing and Italian at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California while working at a center for autistic children.

In 1965, John Hersey received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale and entered the Yale Graduate School of Architecture and established a painting studio in a barn in New Haven. He studies philosophy of art and painting at the University of California at Berkeley and travels to Mexico and the Yucatan. In architecture school his project “House and Studio for a Sculptor” is exhibited as Best of First Year. John Hersey studied photography with Walker Evans and exhibits works. In 1966, he attended an international conference of contemporary architectural theory in Delft, Holland and again traveled throughout Europe. Following graduate school he worked as a draftsman for various architectural firms in New York City, most notably for John M. Johansen again.

In 1970, John Hersey lived in Paris, France for a year and a half, and in Rome (visiting the American Academy for three months) and on l’Isole d’Elba, Italia before returning to New York City to establish a painting and photography studio in the newly opening Soho industrial district. In 1981, John Hersey bought the house and studio of painter Norman Bluhm in Millbrook, New York and divided his time between his NYC studio and country studio.

In 1983, John Hersey opened Gallery Hirondelle Incorporated in New York, representing a spectrum of contemporary local and international artists until 1988. He traveled to South Africa in 1990 to work with the Johannesburg Art Foundation and participated in the Thupelo Workshop in Botswana and donated his sculpture to The National Museum of Art in Gaborone. In 1991, as Chairman of “Cast the Sleeping Elephant,” a project of the artist Mihail, John Hersey assisted in funding (meeting with President Sam Njomo to enlist Namibia as a donor nation) and created a life size cast bronze bull elephant that was placed in the gardens of the United Nations in New York in 1998 as a symbol of all wildlife. Also in that year John Hersey traveled with his son Cannon to China (Shanghai, on the Yangtze River to Chung Ching, Beijing) in search of the house where his father was born.

John Hersey commenced planning and construction of a new house/studio/gallery in 2005 in Millbrook, NY where he now lives. He traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the exhibition “On the Shoulders of Giants” of Cannon Hersey and Samson Mnisi at Joaquim Esteve and for the Brazilian Bienal do Sao Paulo in 2008. Recently Gallery Hirondelle was relaunched with Crosspathculture with Cannon in Millbrook.


John Hersey Memorial Exhibition at Hersey Haiku House, Millbrook, NY | Aug. 15, 2018