(born 1943) is an African-American artist mostly known for his works in and around New York City during the 1970s and 1980s.
Much of his work, including Spade with Chains (1973), reflects his commitment to the civil rights and Black Power movements. In this particular work, the artist employs a provocative, derogatory term, coupled with the literal gardening instrument, in order to make a statement about the issues of bondage and resistance.
Along with these cultural overtones, Hammons’s work also blurred the notions of public and private spaces, as well as what constitutes a valuable commodity. An illustration of these concepts can be seen in Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), a performance piece in which Hammons situates himself alongside street vendors in downtown Manhattan in order to sell snowballs which are priced according to size. This act serves both as a parody on commodity exchange and a commentary on the capitalistic nature of art fostered by art galleries.
Also noteworthy is the artist’s use of discarded or object materials, including but not limited to elephant dung, chicken parts, strands of African-American hair, and bottles of cheap wine. Many critics see these objects as evocative of the desperation of the poor, Black urban class, but Hammons reportedly saw a sort of sacrosanct or ritualistic power in these materials, which is why he utilized them so extensively.
Hammons has also explored the video medium, collaborating with artist Alex Harsley on a number of video works, including Phat Free (originally titled Kick the Bucket), which was included in the Whitney Biennial and other venues. Hammons and Harsley have also collaborated on installations at New York’s 4th Street Photo Gallery, a noted East Village artist exhibition and project space.
Among the Artists whose works reference similar movements such as arte povera and artistic forebears including Marcel Duchamp are Jimmie Durham, Gabriel Orozco, Chakaia Booker, Lorna Simpson, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Hammons’s African American Flag is a part of the permanent collection of New York’s the Museum of Modern Art.
Hammons received the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the Genius Grant) in July 1991.
- ^ Foster, Hal, et al. Art Since 1900: 1945 to the Present, Vol. 2. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 2004. pp. 617–620.