Hugh Hayden

Huff and a Puff

A slanted cabin with shingles and a brick chimney in the style of Thoreau's cabin at Walden

Hugh Hayden (b. 1983, Dallas, TX, lives and works in New York, NY), Huff and a Puff, 2023, wood, mirrored glass, brick, steel. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Mel Taing

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Texas born and New York based artist Hugh Hayden’s practice considers the anthropomorphization of the natural world as a visceral lens for exploring the human condition. At deCordova, his original outdoor commission titled Huff and a Puff is a slanted replica of the one-room home where Henry David Thoreau lived in relative isolation and wrote Walden-Or A Life in the Woods in 1845. Thoreau’s wood and brick cabin is a modern-day pilgrimage site: a symbol of American self-reliance, spirituality, political activism, and ecological consciousness. The entire cabin—every shingle, windowpane, and brick— dramatically slants toward the viewer, conveying a surreal, tensioned force upon this iconic home. The commission advances Hayden’s innovations as a sculptor who forges conversations around the myths and markers of American identity.

Hugh Hayden: Huff and a Puff is commissioned by Art & the Landscape, an initiative of The Trustees. Lead support for Art at The Trustees is provided by Mr. Richard M. Coffman and Mrs. Gabrielle C.F. Coffman. This project is also supported by Lisson Gallery, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Next Generation Fund of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, an anonymous donor, Dr. Susan M. Culman, Marjorie and Nick Greville, Janet and David Offensend, Kathleen O’Hara, Valentine Talland and Nagesh Mahanthappa, Maria Garzon Vassallo and Mark Vassallo, and Elissa and William Warner.

About Hugh Hayden

Hugh Hayden was born in Dallas, Texas in 1983 and lives and works in New York. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2021–22), Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey (2020) and he has had major outdoor installations at Madison Square Park (2021) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (2021). Hayden’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Princeton University Art Museum; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.

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