Richard Hunt Obituary, In Memoriam, Richard Hunt, Celebrated Chicago Sculptor and Advocate for Equality

Richard Hunt Obituary, In Memoriam, Richard Hunt, Celebrated Chicago Sculptor and Advocate for Equality

The art world mourns the loss of Richard Hunt, an esteemed Chicago sculptor and lifelong advocate for equity and inclusion. A pioneer in his field, Hunt’s illustrious career spanned seven decades, leaving an indelible mark on the art landscape. He passed away peacefully at the age of 88 in his Chicago home, leaving behind a legacy of impactful works that melded industrial-urban grit with a deep appreciation for natural forms and biology.

A Trailblazer in Sculpture

Richard Hunt made history in 1971 when he became the first African American artist to receive a solo retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His abstract sculptures, crafted with fluid organicity from welded metal, showcased a constructivist style reminiscent of the works of Picasso and Gonz├ílez from the 1920s and ’30s. Hunt’s transformative encounter with Gonz├ílez’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953 set the stage for a remarkable artistic journey.

Public Art Legacy

Hunt’s impact extended beyond the gallery walls. Renowned for his large-scale public works, he completed over 160 commissions across the United States. Notable among these is the 30-foot-wide hanging bronze, “Swing Low,” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His ability to seamlessly integrate challenging, abstract forms into public spaces earned him recognition as a vital sculptor engaging with larger metaphorical issues.

Chicago’s Sculptural Maestro

Working in a Lincoln Park studio since 1971, housed in a former electrical substation, Hunt became a cornerstone of Chicago’s artistic identity. His monumental sculptures, including the iconic 55-foot-tall “And You Seas” in St. Joseph, Mich., conveyed a sense of transcendence and freedom. Additionally, he contributed 35 pieces to the Chicago area, leaving an enduring mark on the city’s landscape.

Celebrating 60 Years of Sculpture

In 2014, as a lead-up to his 80th birthday, Hunt was honored with two Chicago-area exhibitions. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago hosted a compact showcase, while the Chicago Cultural Center presented a comprehensive career survey titled “Richard Hunt: 60 Years of Sculpture.” These exhibitions celebrated Hunt’s ability to engage the public with abstract forms while addressing larger societal themes.

A Lasting Legacy

Richard Hunt’s influence is cemented in both the art world and the communities touched by his public works. His dedication to pushing artistic boundaries, fostering inclusivity, and contributing to the public sphere has left an enduring legacy. As the art community bids farewell to a sculptural maestro, Richard Hunt’s spirit lives on in the timeless forms he created and the impact he had on the world of art and beyond.

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