David Hammons (1943-)
Human hair, wire, metallic mylar, sledge hammer, plastic beads, string, metal food tin, panty hose, leather, tea bags, and feathers
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest and the Painting and Sculpture Committee
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Finding inspiration in the streets and everyday life of the Harlem community where he lived in the early 1990s, David Hammons gathers castoff, ordinary, and ephemeral materials—ranging from fried chicken wings and liquor bottles to dirt and snow—for use in sculptures and performance works. In this untitled sculpture, an array of spiky tendrils seems to sprout from a small bed of smooth stones. A combination of the organic and the manmade, the plant- or spider-like form here is composed of bits of kinked black hair—gathered from the sweepings of barbershops—that are attached to long metal wires. Pieces of hair inevitably fall beneath and around the work, evoking natural processes of change and decay. Like much of Hammons’s art, Untitled summons an uncanny sensation of the strangeness that often lies just below the surface of the familiar. The work also alludes to vernacular African-American traditions of making art out of whatever is at hand, and the hair suggests the presence of an extended community of countless anonymous individuals who indirectly contributed to its creation.