Richard Hunt USA, b. 1935


Richard Hunt is one of the most accomplished sculptors in the history of the United States. His work has been exhibited 12 times at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, including a solo retrospective in 1971 when Hunt was only 35 years old. Titled The Sculpture of Richard Hunt, this was only the third solo exhibition for a black artist in the history of MoMA. The director of that show referred to it as a “mid-career” exhibition, however Hunt is still active in his studio today, more than 50 years later.


In addition to holding a BFA in sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hunt has been awarded honorary degrees from 15 universities, and has served as either an instructor or artist in residence at 21 others. His sculptures are included in the collections of many of the most significant cultural institutions in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Art Institute of Chicago; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Tate Modern, London, UK; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; National Gallery, Washington, DC; and dozens of others.


In the realm of large-scale works, Hunt’s more than 130 monumental public sculptures grace everything from the grassy sweeps of idyllic public parks to the imposing facades of steel and glass skyscrapers. He has been commissioned by corporations, hospitals, museums, municipalities, universities and athletic organizations. One of his proudest accomplishments is the welded bronze sculpture Swing Low (2016), which hangs in the lobby of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.


Hunt was born and raised on the South Side of the city of Chicago, in the Woodlawn neighborhood. His mother Inez was a librarian and his father Howard was a barber. He took his first art classes at age 13, in the Junior School of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. At age 15, Hunt built his own sculpture studio in his bedroom and began to sculpt with clay. His vision for his future truly came to life when he was 18, when he saw the traveling exhibition Sculpture of theTwentieth Century, which was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and visited The Art Institute of Chicago. It was in the Art Institute of Chicago that Hunt first saw the work of the Spanish sculptor Julio González, who became an immediate and lifelong inspiration. (Little could the young artist imagine that only six years later one of his own works would be traveling the country in a similar show!) That same year, Hunt entered the School of The Art Institute of Chicago where he majored in Art Education. In 1954, he learned to solder and began his total transition away from soft materials into metal. The following year he taught himself to weld.


Hunt’s work rapidly evolved from figuration into the realm of abstraction. He soon began pioneering the use of found metal, particularly automotive scrap, in his work. Throughout his career, Hunt has continued to scavenge his materials from the scrap yards around his lifelong home of Chicago. His distinctive visual language combines this quintessential material of the built world with forms and gestures evocative of nature, conveying the inherent beauty and grace Hunt perceives within the hybrid spirit of our time.


Hunt has been celebrated in more than 100 solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at MOMA; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA; and the Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, WI. More than a dozen major monographs have been published of Hunt’s work. His career has also been the subject of two documentary films, and critical reviews in scores of the most influential art publications of the past century. Other major recent exhibitions of Hunt's work include Solo Presentation, Frieze Masters 2019, London, England; The Sculpture of Richard Hunt; Richard Hunt: Framed and Extended, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, USA; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC; Richard Hunt, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA, USA; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA; Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN, USA and the Museum of African American History Detroit, MI, USA.