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David Hammons

American  •  b. 1943

Biography

Few artists are afforded the liberty to dictate exhibition schedules and public appearances, but David Hammons eschews the spotlight and rebels against the conventions of the art world. Whether intentionally or not, Hammons creates works so laden with spell-binding metaphor that they have become symbols for movements both in the art world as well as in the public domain. (His now-iconic In the Hood sculpture has been used by Black Lives Matter activist group.)

Hammons doesn't work in mediums or any formal or academic theory—he famously has said, "I can't stand art actually." Still, with controversial works including his PETA-paint-splashed Fur Coat sculpture, Hammons remains one of contemporary art's most watched artists. Hammons also doesn't frequently exhibit, and his last major gallery show, 2016's "Five Decades," only featured 34 works. With a controlled market, Hammons saw Untitled, a basketball hoop with dangling candelabra, achieve $8 million at Phillips in 2013. 

Insights

  • Hammons was an early hit: After only showing for one year, LACMA acquired his Injustice Case, 1970, just one year after it was made. Hammons was 28 years old at the time.

  • Hammons famously doesn't keep a phone number, often forcing curators and gallerists to wait outside his Harlem studio for him. 

  • The top result for Hammons at Phillips came in 2013, with a mixed-media basketball-themed installation achieving $8,005,000. More recently, his dyed-cotton African-American Flag in red, black and green featured as the second lot in our New York Evening Sale, May 2017 and achieved $2,050,000.

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