David Hammons
American artist



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David Hammons
American artist
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

Date of Birth

July 24, 1943

Place of Birth

Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A.

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You will not find David Hammons boasting about his newest work in your favorite glossy art magazine.

No sir, Hammons is one of the most elusive artists out there, and is a far cry from narcissistic. He barely talks to anyone in the arts, and when he does, it is virtually never about himself. Pretty refreshing in a world built on vanity and shameless self-promotion, but if you are trying to find some dirt on this guy, you might just be out of luck.

Hammons has never been your quintessential artist. He's not huge fan of publicizing his work, artist statements are few and far between, and you will never hear your theories around his art confirmed. In fact, Hammons once explained, “I can’t stand art actually. I’ve never, ever liked art.” So why make it? Well, he’s surely not doing for the pretentious high-class art world. Instead, he is doing it for the streets and his fellow black Americans.

After Hammons almost failed out of high school, he figured his only option was to become an artist. So off to LA it was! It was there that Hammons developed a passion for the Black Power movement, and in turn, his artistic career began to take form. Since, Hammons has become the poster child for what it means to critique black life in America.

There is pretty much no media that Hammons won’t touch. Elephant dung? Sure. Chicken parts? Totally. Random people's hair? Of course. While this hodgepodge of materials may seem like the guy is just grasping for any provocative thing that might have an impact, Hammons’s true infatuation with art is to take symbols and objects and mess with them (and quite possibly, your head).

I think if any artist experiences the woes of cognitive dissonance, it is David Hammons. He hates the art world, yet that is where he thrives. He makes art that shuns the Wall-Street-Upper-East-Side culture in favor of Harlem flare, yet he shows work in New York’s blue chip galleries. The contradictions are strong in this one.

Think the whole hating the art world thing is a charade? Well perhaps this little gem of a performance piece will ease your mind. In his ever so perfectly titled work, Pissed Off, Hammons decided to whip it out and piss on Richard Serra’s steel behemoth sculpture T.W.U. and document it. Feeling that pissing on Serra’s work was not enough, he then later went back and threw a bunch of worn out sneakers on the sculpture. So while we know virtually nothing about who Hammons is as a person, we can confirm that public urination and vandalism is okay in his book. Knowing that, perhaps it's better that he keeps his mouth shut.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about David Hammons

David Hammons (born 24 July 1943) is an American artist especially known for his works in and around New York City and Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s.

Early life

David Hammons was born in 1943 in Springfield, Illinois, the youngest of ten children being raised by a single mother. This dynamic caused great financial strain on his family during his childhood; he later stated that he is uncertain how they managed to 'get by' during this time. Although not inclined academically, Hammons showed an early talent for drawing and art; however the ease at which these practices came to him caused him to develop disdain for it. In 1962 he moved to Los Angeles, where he started attending Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) from 1966 to 1968 and the Otis Art Institute from 1968 to 1972. He was never officially enrolled there, but Charles White allowed him to attend night classes. There he was influenced by artists such as Charles White,Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari, Noah Purifoy, and Chris Burden, all of whom would soon be internationally known. During his time in LA, he met Senga Nengudi, a performance and conceptual artist with whom he later shared a studio. With Nengudi and others, Hammons formed Studio Z (a.k.a LA Rebellion), an art collective that collaborated on artistic works. In 1974 Hammons settled in New York City, where he slowly became better known nationally. He still lives and works in New York.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about David Hammons.