Photo by Angelo Piccozzi
Artwork © John Chamberlain. All rights reserved.
John Chamberlain was born in Rochester, Indiana, and grew up in Chicago. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago (1951–52) and Black Mountain College (1955–56). He moved to New York in 1956, and his first major solo exhibition was held at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, in 1960. His work was included in the Museum of Modern Art's 1961 group exhibition, "Art of Assemblage," an important international survey of artists working with collage in two and three dimensions, and during that same year he participated in the São Paulo Bienal. He was included in the Venice Biennale in 1964. He died in Manhattan in 2011.
Since the mid-1950s, Chamberlain has been known for his use of automobile parts in powerful, large-scale sculptures. He has worked with other mediums and materials, including two-dimensional paintings made with automobile paint, tied urethane foam sculptures (both in the 1960s), and crushed metal and melted Plexiglas sculptures (in the 1970s). Since the mid-1990s, the artist has experimented considerably with large-format photography.
Chamberlain had his first retrospective in 1971, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. A second retrospective was organized in 1986 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. His numerous honors include the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1993), the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. (1993), The National Arts Club Award, New York (1997), the Distinction in Sculpture Honor from the Sculpture Center, New York (1999), and a Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, from the College for Creative Studies, Detroit (2010).