That hammer is breathtaking

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By Bobby Camerlinck

One man’s stepladder is another man’s art. Especially if that stepladder is a full-scale replica made entirely of paper.

*Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection* is on display at the Joslyn Art Museum from Feb. 16 through May 12.

The exhibition features several works from the unique collection of hardware industrial pioneer John Hechinger. The sculptures, paintings, prints and photographs have one thing in common: they all depict tools — a working man’s imagination gone wild.

Hechinger was the head of the Hechinger Company, a hardware chain founded in 1911 by his father. Hechinger collected several crafts that featured tools as subjects to decorate the company’s headquarters. By displaying them throughout the building, Hechinger seemed to capture the do-it-yourself spirit of the American lifestyle.

In 1998, the collection left its original home for public display. The wide range of works honors the practical beauty of the common tool. It captures the intrinsic poetry of form and function — a unique combination of the world of make-believe and common household tools.

Where else can you see a hammer and nails made completely out of glass? Only in the realms of fantasy and art will you discover a rice paper saw cutting through a loaf of stone.

The Hechinger Collection is sure to stir the imagination of poet and laborer alike.

The exhibition will feature 65 works from the imaginations of artists Berenice Abbott, Jim Dine, Harold Edgerton, Richard Estes, Jacob Lawrence, Claes Oldenburg, Wayne Thiebaud and William Wiley.

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