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Hilaire Hiler was born Hilaire Harzberg in 1898 in St. Paul, Minnesota, a grandson of German Jews, and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He changed his name to Hiler to avoid anti-semitism. From 1919-34 he lived in Paris. There he frequented the Jockey Club in Montparnasse, where he played Jazz piano and saxophone and painted the interior. He also designed theater sets and costumes. He returned to the US in 1934 and painted wall murals for the WPA. His later work became completely abstract, and he worte extensively on his theories of color and abstraction before his death in 1966.
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Hiler, Hilaire, 1898-1966: Portrait of a man leaning on a table, Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 78.534.
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