Richard Hunt USA, b. 1935

Overview

Richard Hunt is one of the most accomplished American metal sculptors of the past century. His work has been exhibited 12 times at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, including a solo retrospective in 1971, when the artist was only 35 years old. Titled The Sculpture of Richard Hunt, March 25–July 9, 1971, 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 at age 83.

 

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 life long 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. 

 

In the realm of large-scale works, Hunt has established himself as the most productive public sculpture in the United States. His more than 125 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 recent accomplishments is the welded bronze sculpture Swing Low (2016), which hangs in the lobby of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, the newest Smithsonian institution.

 

Major exhibitions of Hunt's work include Solo Presentation, Frieze Masters 2019, London, England; Exhibited 12 times at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA, including 1971 retrospective 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. Hunt’s work is in the collections of many of the most significant cultural institutions in the United States, including MOMA, the Smithsonian, and many others.

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