BAHM: 2.13.17 David Hammons
David Hammons is a New York based artist working in installation, performance and sculpture. After relocating to LA from Illinois, Hammons attended Chouinard Art Institute (now Cal Arts) and Otis Art Institute, where he studied under Charles White and gained recognition for his series of body prints. In 1974 he moved to New York and created a number of performance and public sculpture pieces. In 1991 he was the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. Hammons has exhibited his work internationally and has pieces in several public and private collections, all while never having gallery representation and being generally inaccessible and elusive to the art world. Hammons’ work is largely concerned with conventions of display, ephemera, value and destabilized notions of black identity.
There is no unified style to Hammons’ work as he uses a wide variety of materials, from the discarded, abject matter (hair, cheap wine bottles, pieces of chicken) to the impermanent (snow, lights). Some pieces speak to Hammons’ simplistic poignancy such as Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983) in which the artist peddled snowballs on the street, prices dependent on size, and Concerto in Black and Blue (2002), which consisted of a dark, empty Ace Gallery, lit only by the flickering lights of blue flashlight keychains given to each guest. The latter of which is a perfect example of Hammons’ interest in abstraction dematerialization as a means of representing blackness. The blue light, emitted by the participation of the visitor, frames the blackness within the contained space of the gallery. Glen Ligon, who interviewed Hammons for Artforum in 2004 stated, “not being from here is a movement toward placelessness, toward the utopic, the posthuman, and a deep critique of American society,” and speaking of Hammons and Sun Ra, Ligon continues, “Their genius was to employ a postmodern concern with the emptying out of the self as a critical strategy, one that might have particular resonance with a people of historically positioned at the margin of what was considered human.”
Artforum Article by Glen Ligon: Black Light: David Hammons and the Poetics of Emptiness, 2004
Aphelis Archive: Blizzard Ball Sale by David Hammons, 1983
Stop and Piss: David Hammons' Pissed Off
ArtNews Article: Looking at Seeing: David Hammons and the Politics of Visibility
Interview with David Hammons by Kellie Jones