Born in 1956 and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mr. Hagen showed a strong interest in drawing and painting as a child. His training began at the Minneapolis Art Institute and continued at art schools in Kansas and Colorado as well as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. While in the private atelier of Richard Lack, the teachings of the Boston School strongly influenced the young artist. With the intent of furthering his studies, he to move to Providence, Rhode Island and completed both his Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Rhode Island School of Design. He was well on his way to establishing himself as a respected painter and draftsman. The awards and honors received from such establishments as the Museum of American Illustration, Academic Artist Association, Newport Art Museum and the State of Rhode Island, during and after his years at RISD bolstered his reputation as one of the finest landscape and portrait artists in the region. The majestic vistas and seascapes of Newport, Rhode Island became both home to the artist and backdrop for much of Mr. Hagen’s expanding body of work.
His work has been acquired by both national and international collections including Brown University, Newport County Courthouse, Rhode Island State House, Providence College, the Westin Hotel, Providence and the Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington, DC. After discovering Mr. Hagen's talent in 1997, Steven Spielberg cast him as a 19th century artist in the movie Amistad. Paintings and articles about Mr. Hagen have been published in ARTnews, American Art Review, Newport Life magazine, Newport Daily News, Vineyard Gazette, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Providence Journal, Associated Press, and United Press International. Providence art critic Bill Van Siclen has sited comparisons of Hagen’s figure drawings to that of 16th century Italian masters.
Brown University has commissioned this artist for his well-honed draftsmanship skills in painting the portraits of past university presidents. In addition, the University hired Mr. Hagen for two years to produce archeological drawings of individual artifacts from the university’s excavation of the Great Temple in Petra, Jordan. The excavations conclude in 2005, with the drawings to be published soon after.
Extensive travels throughout North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii have given Mr. Hagen a broaden sensitivity to the effects of light and it’s different interpretations from various regions of the world. In 1992, he began making annual painting excursions to Monhegan, Maine. This quintessential New England fishing village is known for it’s rugged beauty and long artistic heritage. Attracted by the unique quality of light found on this small island, Monhegan has been a continual source of inspiration for Mr. Hagen.
In 1994 he was introduced to a fellow Midwesterner and future wife, Dorothy Downing Forker. In 1997, they married in Newport and moved to Martha’s Vineyard to raise a family. They purchased a house on Lamberts Cove Road, near Tashmoo Farm where they now reside along with their two children, Garrett James born in 1999 and Hannah Grace born in 2002.
Mr. Hagen is best known on Martha’s Vineyard for his scenic coastal and pastoral oil paintings. He typically works on location to create small field studies, 16 x 20 inches or smaller. Larger works created from the studies are generally done in his Vineyard Haven studio.