Made at the same time as Hunt's "Minor Monument" series, this piece came about at a crucial moment in the history of sculpture, a transformative moment where American sculptors especially began developing a vernacular specific to the realities of post-war life. Rapidly-expanding American industry processed endless volumes of metal into innumerable goods for the booming economy. The Midwestern "Rust Belt" including Chicago was a fruitful region for African Americans, as the demand for labor made for plentiful opportunities in the industrial sector. When Hunt began producing sculpture after graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1957, the scrap yards of the midwestern became both a quarry and a muse, becoming the substance of his sculptures and inspiring their forms. The discarded metal had organic potential, as its history of marks and some of the natural shapes presented a quality similar to the organic uniqueness of wood or marble. Hunt's particular application of found metal was exceptionally novel, however- he was not presenting perfectly preserved detritus like an assemblage piece, nor was he aggressive purifying the material such that it lost all original character. He walked a tightrope between the two sides, like his peers and friends John Chamberlain and Mel Edwards, where the history was still visible in the metal but it was profoundly transformed by his hand. Years later, the choices feel all the more ahead of their time, as Hunt's ability to recycle material speaks to contemporary artistic concerns.
This piece presents a number of the hallmarks of Hunt's style, and is an exceptional representative of that particular era. The original metal's scars and features remain visible, streamlined auto ribbing, grommet holes, and rivet heads creating brief nods back to synthetic industry, while much of the rest of the form is completely organic and expressive. This important piece came out of the era when Hunt's mastery first started being recognized, an era which led to important exhibitions like his 1971 MOMA retrospective.
Artist studio Private Collection Chicago Kavi Gupta Chicago