(born 1943, Springfield, Illinois; lives and works in Brooklyn and Harlem, New York)
David Hammons is a conceptual artist working in a variety of media including performance, installation, sculpture, printmaking, among other modes of production. Hammons occupies an iconic role in this exhibition and remains a point of influence for many of the artists included. Beginning in the 1960s in Los Angeles, and then later in New York, Hammons set a compelling precedent for with his witty, wry conceptual approach to infusing art into life and vice versa. Much of his early work incorporates the body and ordinary found materials—hair, chicken bones, grease, musical instruments, shovels, paper bags. From these functional or punning objects, Hammons creates art that resonates with the puns and humor of Conceptual art, and with the material, corporeal and social presence of African-American life. Two works from the late 1960s and early 70s on view at the Grey Art Gallery are drawn from Hammons’s iconic series of body prints, in which he coated himself with grease or pigment and then used his own body to create impressions on paper. While they function as stand-alone works of art, the prints also serve as records of the physical markings of Hammons’s gestural and performative process.
In the famed performance Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), documentation of which is on view at both the Studio Museum and the Grey Art Gallery, Hammons stood on the street alongside other vendors on Cooper Square, selling snowballs in different sizes (from XS to XL) to passersby. By assigning value and appearing to seek profit from a commonplace, short-lived object, Hammons draws attention to both the arbitrary nature of the art market and the precarious financial conditions of many working-class New Yorkers.
Before moving to New York in 1974, David Hammons studied in Los Angeles at Chouinard Art Institute and Otis Art Institute. He was an artist in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 1980–81. His solo exhibitions include David Hammons, L&M Arts, New York (2011); Sequence 1, Skulptur Projekte Munster 07, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2007); David Hammons, L&M Arts, New York (2007); and Real Time, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland (2000). His group exhibitions include Radical Conceptual: Positionen aus der Sammlung des MMK, Museum fur moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2010); 30 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem (2009);NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Menil Collection, Houston (2008, traveling); Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flanerie, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2008); Black Panther Rank and File, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2006); Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2005); Shadowland: An Exhibition as a Film, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2005); Seeds and Roots, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2004); The Big Nothing, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2004); Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer, Venice Biennial (2003); and Over the Edges, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium (2000).