Hammons’s appropriation of the prosaic vernacular of trash and construction sites radically and blatantly challenges conventional hierarchies. Persistently forgoing the standard systems of fine art display, Hammons makes art out of the disused remnants of everyday life: rubble from the street that includes hair, bottles, bones, and bags. His ordinary objects, however, are charged with history, complexity, and narrative—this plastic sheeting is torn and frayed; discarded detritus functioning as an anti-object. Holland Cotter suggested, “If Abstract Expressionism is about the preciousness of the painter’s touch, Mr. Hammons’s arrangements of raddled plastics and frayed blankets are about the touch of ordinary bodies laboring, sweating, sleeping, trying to stay warm.” (Holland Cotter, "The Upper East Side Goes Grungy in David Hammons’s Gallery Show," The New York Times, March 1, 2011, p. C1) Hammons has lived and worked in New York City since 1974, and his experiences there have critically informed the foundation of his oeuvre, permeated by a highly charged and omnipresent cultural critique. Through the use of provocative and unconventional materials he creates art with a strong visual impact that simultaneously shocks, perplexes, and stimulates.
Dismantling the entrenched traditions of high art and its commodification, Hammons’ work calls into question the capitalist systems that underpin the established structural hierarchies of the art world. Untitled is exemplary of Hammons’ characteristically unorthodox approach to artistic methods and materials, which persistently reach beyond the conventional limits of paint on canvas through the playful use of discarded debris. Upon this painting’s first exhibition, The New Yorker praised, “With their draped membranes often touching the floor, the works have a mighty, sculptural presence to go with their visual ravishment. Hammons’s show is somehow about everything since Abstract Expressionism—his initial inspiration before he launched his long career as a conceptualist guerrilla, surfacing now and then from jealously guarded obscurity with satirical japes, at once elegant and scorching, on themes of racial and social inequality. Now he has achieved a perfect synthesis of his political animus and his aesthetic avidity… Nearly every one of these works belongs in a museum, in a room of its own. Any other art juxtaposed with it would curl up and die.” ("Review : David Hammons," originally published in The New Yorker, cited in Exh. Cat., New York, L&M Arts, David Hammons, 2011, n. p.)
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