Bill Henson

Henson's work is strangely melancholic, imbued with a poetic lyricism and darkly glowing palette. He embraces the somnambulistic side of reality. Working at night in the no-man's-land of suburbia, the Melbourne-based artist ignores the dictates of time and fashion. His work is, in part, informed by paintings of the old masters and an obsession with the figure and landscape. His images capture a moment of transition; dusk, the nature of adolescence and the loss of innocence.

But there is also a melancholy and longing, a sadness. For Henson, these works are portrayals of memories. Everyone carries their childhood around inside of them for the rest of their lives," he says. "It's an interior landscape, a lost domain made up of our past experiences, our fears and longings. Any language of portraiture really only becomes interesting when we feel that we are seeing some part of ourselves. And I think in the arts this can come unexpectedly — as though one has suddenly remembered some fundamental thing about oneself — and the shock of it heightens or sense of mortality."

Any subject for Henson invites the possibility of endless speculation. While the subjects are central, it is the response of each viewer that makes Henson's work so powerful. It is the priority of individual experience. "Everything must contribute in some way to our sense of being in the world. Perhaps for some, there is this need to find a physical form, separate from ourselves, through which to articulate these impressions and these reactions. My interest probably stems from the way in which the unknown stimulates speculation," he adds. "We find often, in the most interesting art, that we have an acute sense of something. Something, if you like, that is powerfully apprehended yet not fully understood. All of these things animate our speculative capacity, and that is why it is interesting." — Ashley Crawford


About the collection

Gerald Schwartz believes the presence of provocative art promotes creative thinking, remembering that "artistic presence was the only thing missing at HBS when I went there. I wanted to change that." In 1995, Gerry Schwartz and a team from HBS together began purchasing contemporary art for the HBS buildings most frequented by students. Inspired by the growing collection, a small group of MBA students founded the HBS Art Appreciation Society in 2001. It quickly grew into one of the largest student clubs on campus, sponsoring events in Boston area galleries and museums, as well as an annual weekend in Manhattan to meet artists, tour exhibitions, and attend theater. The club's co-presidents accompany Mr. Schwartz on his annual buying trip to purchase additional art for the School's collection.

About Gerald Schwartz, MBA '70

Gerald Schwartz, MBA ’70, is the Founder and CEO of Onex Corporation. He has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Gerry Schwartz is Vice Chairman and member of the Executive Committee of Mount Sinai Hospital, a director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, a trustee of The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Chairman of its Canadian Friends, and a governor of Junior Achievement of Metro Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Manitoba, a Masters in Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School, and several Doctor of Laws (Hon.) degrees. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music.