American-born artist David Hammons was born in Springfield, Illinois, and he showed a talent and proficiency for artistic expression from a very early age. He is well known throughout the art world, and he has created memorable works in a wide variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to performance art and large-scale installations.
Born in Illinois, David Hammons moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s. While in L.A., he attended the Chouinard Art Institute, a well known school now known as CalArts. David Hammons also learned at the Otis Art Institute, where he attended from 1968 to 1972.
After his formal education was completed, David Hammons moved again, this time from Los Angeles to New York City. That cross-continent move introduced David Hammons to a whole new set of influences, including many contemporary artists of the day.
It was also in New York City that David Hammons enjoyed his greatest success as an artist, and even today David is most closely associated with the New York City art scene. His greatest successes were achieved during the 1970s and 1980s, but David Hammons continues to influence large numbers of contemporary artists, who draw on his past successes and learn from his unique combination of techniques.
Success did not come easy for David Hammons, but it did eventually come. During his time in the art world, David Hammons was influenced by a wide range of contemporaries, most notably artists like Arte Povera. Like Arte Povera, David Hammons's work often uses large themes like culture and modern society.
David Hammons is known for his provocative and sometimes controversial themes, but he is just as well known for his use of unorthodox materials. Among those materials are things like elephant dung, random strands of hair, chicken parts from local processing plants and even bottles of cheap wine from local liquor stores.
The use of those unusual materials has often made David Hammons the subject of controversy, but his unorthodox approach has also gained him large number of fans. Collectors have long been drawn to his works, and many of his early pieces have fetched high prices on the open market.
Some who criticize his use of materials like elephant dung and slaughterhouse materials misunderstand the point of David Hammons and his artwork. This eclectic artist has always been centered within the black urban experience, and he uses some highly unusual measures to bring that experience to life.
David Hammons also often uses sarcasm to confront common stereotypes in modern society. His sarcasm tends to be cutting, and often controversial, exploring the role of racism in modern society, the place of the artist and the impact of artistic expression on society at large.
Once David Hammons became recognized for his art and his expression, the awards began to accumulate. Most notably, David Hammons was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, one of the highest awards in the realm of artistic expression.
That award, given in 1991, served as the springboard to even greater successes, making the work of this celebrated contemporary artist even more sought after and more highly collectible. These days, David Hammons' work can be found in galleries and art museums throughout the world.
Some of the notable galleries and museums that host David Hammons' works include the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Chicago, Illinois, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporarain in Paris, France and the Francois Pinault Foundation in Venice, Italy.
In addition to the many art galleries and museums that display his work, David Hammons is also one of the most widely collected of contemporary artists. His works, from large scale paintings adorned with chicken feathers and elephant dung to tiny pieces featuring bold colors and striking designs, have been highly sought after by collectors, who view his work as eclectic, timeless and enduring.
From his earliest days as a visual artist, David Hammons has been seen as an artist to watch. As such, the value of his works on the collectible market has continued to rise, and many early investors have come back for more.
Whether his works are hanging on the walls of major museums, adorning the spaces of high-end galleries or creating lasting value for collectors, one thing is very clear -- David Hammons continues to make his mark on the art world, with evocative pieces, controversial ideas and top quality design and execution.
David Hammons Untitled, 2004 rock and hair 12 x 9 x 5 1/4 inches
David Hammons Untitled, 1978 bamboo, phonograph record fragments, colored string and hair 29 x 49 x 11 inches
David Hammons African American Flag, 1989 printed fabric with painted wood pole flag 8 x 12 inches
David Hammons Moving to the Other Side, 1969 silkscreen, in shades of gray on cream wove paper 34 1/2 x 29 1/4 inches
David Hammons Untitled, 2004 Wall-mounted sculpture comprised of 12 African masks, wood, metal, wire, rope, straw and mirror. 39 x 11 x 55 inches
David Hammons Untitled, 2000 crystal, brass, frosted glass, light fixtures, hardware and steel 77 x 87 x 25 inches