Richard Hunt

born 1935

Richard Hunt

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Richard Hunt is an internationally renowned sculptor. As a public artist, Hunt is known as a creator of abstract metal works, each a unique shrine to the human spirit. He was born September 12, 1935 on Chicago’s South Side. From an early age he was interested in the arts, as his mother was an artist. As a young boy, Hunt began to show enthusiasm and talent in artistic disciplines such as drawing and painting, and also sculpture, an interest that grew as he got older. He developed his skills at the Junior School of the Art Institute and later at the Art Institute of Chicago. Hunt also acquired business sense and awareness of social issues from working for his father in a barbershop. Hunt began to experiment with materials and sculpting techniques, influenced heavily by progressive twentieth-century artists.

This experimentation garnered critically positive response from the art community, such that Hunt was exhibited at the “Artists of Chicago” and “Vicinity Show” and the American Show, where the Museum of Modern Art purchased a piece for its collection. He was the youngest artist to exhibit at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, a major international survey exhibition of modern art.

Hunt signature pieces include Jacob’s Ladder at the Carter G. Woodson Library in Chicago and Flintlock Fantasy in Detroit. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to serve on the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts and he also served on boards of the Smithsonian Institution. Hunt is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees. The artist has received numerous accolades and recognition throughout his career and was the first African-American artist to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His can be found in numerous museums as well as both public and private collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery and National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to serve on the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received the Guggenheim, Ford, and Tamarind fellowships, as well as awards from the Art Institute of Chicago. He has produced more than 55 public art projects; these sculptures that can be found throughout the world.

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Richard Hunt in Studio
My career in sculpture began in 1955. It was then, while still a student, I began to exhibit my sculpture around Chicago in all sorts of places-art fairs, small galleries, local art centers, and the like. During the 12 years that followed, my sculptural development grew as a private, independent, studio-based, self-generated activity that responded to the stimuli I supplied and the skills I could master. Then in 1967, I began work on a commissioned sculpture which my studio could not accommodate. [This commission], as I look back on it, began what has been a second career for me, that of a public sculptor. The dimensions of this second career, which remains inextricably linked with the first, were not clear in that beginning, and have only become apparent to me with time and reflection on its course. Outside the studio, [my] horizons broaden to the limits of the possible; that is to the extent [I] can conceive of, and master, the interactive possibilities. These possibilities are often realized through the creative interaction with patrons, or patron groups in their conception, and with engineers, technicians, and tradesmen in their execution. Outside of the studio, [my] internal dialogue gives way to the dialogue that a sculpture sets up with the environment the sculpture is created for. Public sculpture responds to the dynamics of a community, or of those in it, who have a use for sculpture. It is this aspect of use, of utility, that gives public sculpture its vital and lively place in the public mind. The challenges utility brings to [my] mind and art, are as varied as the people and the sites encountered with each commission. (Richard Hunt, New York: Dorsky Gallery, 1989)
Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

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