In Chicago, The Art Institute Honors Richard Hunt with A Show

September 20, 2020

The development of American sculpture during the post-war period is marked by various figures, most of them white men. Since the society struggled with the segregation of people of color, there are very few authors that came to prominence at the time.

One of them is Richard Hunt, whose domains proved to be the wide within his generation during the 1960s and 1970s. Influenced by the 20th-century masters such as Pablo Picasso or David Smith, throughout the decades this sculptor has released an impeccable abstract body of work characterized by the expressiveness, outstanding plasticity, and smoothness. Hunt’s works can be found throughout the States and abroad, and he reached recognition for the way he refurbished repurposed Chicago Railway Systems electrical substation built in 1909.

Currently, on display at The Art Institute Chicago is an exhibition of recent works made by Hunt that prove the continuity of the legendary artist who devotedly plunges into the dialog between the material and the technique.

Hunt in his studio, with a photo of Ida B. Wells in the foreground. Image courtesy of Richard Hunt

Reviewing Past and Present

Under the title Scholar’s Rock or Stone of Hope or Love of Bronze, after one of the monumental bronze sculptures on display, the exhibition is practically an intersection of Hunt’s recent work but also a revision of his earlier work.

Namely, during the past six years, the renowned sculptor immersed himself in a durational examination of his own work by removing, adding, reshaping the work, and exploring the symbolical and material features of bronze. Those works are a result of Hunt’s intuitive process that is practically projected upon the metal. By reusing the scarps and found pieces, the sculptor follows the trajectory imposed by the material.

Out and Further Out (2018), among other works, in Hunt’s studio. Courtesy of the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection.

The Works

The installment envelopes through two separate museum spaces. The Bluhm Family Terrace hosts works produced since 2000, including the mentioned massive bronze sculpture that stands at the forefront of the installment, two other large-scale stainless steel sculptures, and a selection of smaller-scaled bronzes.

To fully grasp Hunt’s unique approach to sculpture making, the visitors will have a unique chance to experience twelve of Hunt’s works and maquettes for public sculptures from the 1970s that will be presented starting from 26 September in Gallery 288 of the building’s Modern Wing.

An aerial view of Richard Hunt’s studio. Image courtesy of Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt at The Art Institute of Chicago

Curated in joint efforts by Ann Goldstein, deputy director and chair and curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Jordan Carter, assistant curator, Modern, and Contemporary Art, with Suzie Oppenheimer, former curatorial associate, Modern, and Contemporary Art, the exhibition as a whole tends to revisit the variety of Hunt’s engagement with metal, spatial issues, and the comprehension of the base.

In addition to the importance of this particular presentation is the fact the sculptor’s work hasn’t been seen at the Art Institute of Chicago since the 1971 show The Sculpture of Richard Hunt.

Scholar’s Rock or Stone of Hope or Love of Bronze is on display at Bluhm Family Terrace, Gallery 288 within The Art Institute of Chicago until the summer of 2021.

Featured image: Hunt sanding a work in preparation for his exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Image courtesy of Richard Hunt. All images courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago.

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