His work is in the museums across the country, but sculptor Richard Hunt will always be Chicago's own.
Small Hybrid by Richard Hunt, 1964.
The Picasso in Daley Plaza may be the most famous public artwork in Chicago, but no artist has made as much of a mark on the city as Richard Hunt. For more than 50 years, the South Side native has fashioned an ever-evolving array of monumental works for hospitals, schools, libraries, churches, and government buildings. No matter how massive, his pieces always express an almost body-blowing sense of motion, in shapes that make it hard to believe steel could ever be so fluid. As he nears his 80th birthday, the Museum of Contemporary Art honors the artist and his ingenuity with “MCA DNA: Richard Hunt,” opening December 18.
“His ongoing experiment,” suggests MCA curator Naomi Beckwith, “is how to make sculpture do those uncanny things you can do on paper. How do you get sculpture to explode, jump up, jump out, twist in multiple directions?” Combining a passion for gesture and a fascination with metal—its significance as a modern material and as a symbol of labor—Hunt’s works, large or small, strike one as very much made, yet utterly imaginative.
“In his early years,” relates Beckwith, “Richard would go to junkyards and collect scrap and create pieces that looked like something from The Matrix, like robots or friendly monsters.” Over time, the artist veered toward Minimalism, but never truly abandoned hints of the recognizable. “The work,” suggests Beckwith, “is never fully disconnected from the world, from memory, labor, or the body.” Or from the city he calls home. December 18-May 17, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660