The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has acquired the archive of sculptor Richard Hunt. Hunt’s work often ties together historical and contemporary references all the while creating historically-based artwork that conflates local and African diasporic themes.
“Hunt’s creative and seemingly spiritual connection to his African American heritage situates him as an inheritor of the African creative traditions that influenced modernism and its best-known European artists,” says Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute. “Both sculptor and printmaker, Hunt’s collection of models, maquettes, sculptural objects, sketchbooks, related works on paper, studio notebooks, and photographs relate closely to the GRI’s core collections sectors and areas of curatorial expertise, both in terms of subject matter and media.”
Hunt has maintained an illustrious and formidable career trajectory spanning his earliest works in the 1950s to today. Executed in welded and cast steel, aluminum, copper, and bronze, Hunt’s abstract creations make frequent references to plant, human, and animal forms as well as classical music, traditional African-American spirituals, and African and African-American history and mythology.
“Richard Hunt is one of the foremost American artists of the mid- to late-twentieth century,” says LeRonn Brooks, associate curator for modern and contemporary collections. “In addition to the extensive archival material pertaining to Hunt’s over 60-year career, a great deal of this archive consists of material highlighting his significance as a public figure and his eminent role in the African American community as well as correspondence with government leaders, clients, other prominent artists and African-American leaders of his time including John H. Johnson of the Johnson Publishing Company.”
In addition to his acclaimed career as a fine art sculptor, Hunt is one of the most prolific and significant creators of public art in the U.S, with 160 public sculpture commissions gracing prominent locations in 24 states. Hunt has sculpted monuments for notable figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Carl Sandburg, and Hobart Taylor, Jr., and has recently completed a major monument for Ida B. Wells.
“I am thrilled that the Getty, who I first became affiliated with through my participation in the Getty Center for Education in the Arts during the 1980s, will be the home of my archive,” said Hunt. “The entirety of my papers, photographs, letters and sketches trace the arc of my career and my contribution to art history. I hope that my archive would serve not only as a remembrance but an inspiration to others.”
In addition to his sculptural practice, Hunt has maintained a parallel practice as a printmaker, most often producing lithographs. The archive includes more than one hundred prints, as well as a selection of larger drawings and sketches.
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