Heide Fasnacht


Heide Fasnacht has shown an abiding interest in states of instability. She has explored these concepts through drawings, large-scale sculptures, photo-based work, and prints. In a recent return to painting, she has furthered this exploration, looking at lost childhood sites such as playgrounds and amusement parks.

When Fasnacht came for her residency in 1998, she was thinking about portraiture and how the relationship between an artist, a sitter, and the circumstances that brought them together is reflected in historic painting. She felt this intimate relationship was not a subject examined by contemporary artists and began to explore this idea through works at the Gardner. 

Two of the works that attracted her attention were Gentile Bellini’s Seated Scribe (1479–1481), and Raphael’s Count Tommaso Inghirami (about 1515–1516). Fasnacht spoke about these two Renaissance paintings during an Eye of the Beholder program, Artists in Conversation at the Gardner, where she was in rambling, convivial, and well-received conversation with San Francisco-based installation artist David Ireland and former Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art Jennifer Gross. The discussion focused on work the two artists had made over the years, as well as their reflections on Isabella Stewart Gardner's installation of her collection.

In addition, Fasnacht spent time working with students from Boston Latin School as part of the School Partnership Program, leading activities and discussions focused on looking and making artwork; she also guided Family Fun workshops.

Heide Fasnacht’s works have most recently been on view at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Socrates Sculpture Park, and American Academy of Arts & Letters in New York. She is represented in many permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Harvard Art Museums; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the DeCordova Museum; and the Yale University Art Gallery. Fasnacht is also the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Gottlieb Foundation Grant, and two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowships. In 2004, Virginia Commonwealth University presented Heide Fasnacht: Strange Attractors, a mid-career retrospective of her work.