Harlan Hubbard

Currently unavailable. The gallery is interested in acquiring works by this artist.


(American, January 4, 1900 – January 16, 1988)

Harlan Hubbard was an artist, writer, and modern day Thoreau. He is best known for his books of his travels in a shantyboat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the self sufficient life he and his wife Anna, lived for more than forty years on a homestead they carved out an Ohio River Bank.

He created paintings, murals, watercolors and line drawings. Some of his finest work is found in woodblock prints he produced through his life.

Hubbard was born in Bellevue, Kentucky. His father died when Harlan was only seven. Soon thereafter, his mother moved him to New York City to be with his two older brothers who were living there at the time. One of his brothers, Lucien Hubbard (1888-1971), became a Hollywood screenwriter. Hubbard attended Childs High School in the Bronx and received his art education from New York's National Academy of Design and the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In 1919, he returned with his mother to northern Kentucky and settled in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

As a young man, Hubbard saw the industrial development in America as a threat to the natural world and he came to reject consumer culture. In 1929 he started keeping a journal into which he poured his thoughts on society. In 1943, he married Anna Eikenhout. The following year they built a shantyboat at Brent, Kentucky and traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, ending their journey in the Louisiana bayous in 1951. His book Shantyboat recounts the eight-year journey from Brent to New Orleans. His book Shantyboat in the Bayous, which was published in 1990, completes the story.

In 1951, Harlan and Anna built a simple home at Payne Hollow on the shore of the Ohio River in Trimble County, Kentucky. It was there that the Hubbards lived lives that have been described[by whom?] as simultaneously frugal and abundant. Hubbard published two books on their lifestyle: Payne Hollow and Journals, 1929-1944. Author Wendell Berry was a close friend of Hubbard's who wrote and lectured on the Hubbards' lives.

Hubbard's wife Anna died on May 3, 1986. Hubbard himself died two years later at the age of 88.

Hubbard's art was largely pastoral, including oils, watercolors, and woodblock printing. The Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, Kentucky and the Frankfort Community Public Library (Frankfort, Indiana) have significant collections of his work.

Hubbard bequeathed Payne Hollow to his friend and fellow artist Paul Hassfurder, who began living in Payne Hollow in 1989.