American • b. 1935
One of the most accomplished American metal sculptors of the past century, Richard Hunt was the first African-American sculptor to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1971. This was the crowning moment of Hunt’s rise to critical acclaim. Having encountered the work of Julio González in 1953, Hunt taught himself to weld sculpture within two years and by the late 1950s was exhibiting his work nationwide and sold his first work to MoMA while still a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1962, he was the youngest artist to exhibit at Seattle’s World Fair and received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
The works Hunt created in the 1960s and 1970s are predominantly made from the materials readily available in car junkyards. Welded bumpers and fenders are transformed into Hunt's abstract creations that make frequent references to plant, human, and animal forms. “One of the central themes in my work is the reconciliation of the organic and the industrial,” he explained. “I see my work as forming a kind of bridge between what we experience in nature and what we experience from the urban, industrial, technology-driven society we live in. I like to think that within the work . . . there is a resolution of the tensions between the sense of freedom one has in contemplating nature and the sometimes restrictive, closed feeling engendered by the rigors of the city.” Even now, at age 83, Hunt continues to create work: “One of the things that keeps me going is sculptural inertia. Having made sculpture for so long, I tend to keep making it. Being a professional sculptor is an interesting combination of a work life and an intellectual life that are mutually stimulating.”
Hunt's work can be found in collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other institutions.
"In some works it is my intention to develop the kind of forms Nature might create if only heat and steel were available to her.”
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