John Chamberlain

Photo by Angelo Piccozzi. Artwork © John Chamberlain. All rights reserved.

John Chamberlain Listed Exhibitions (Selected) (44 Kb)
John Chamberlain Bibliography (Selected) (25 Kb)

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.

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).

Public collections include Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Menil Collection, Houston; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Tate Modern, London. His first retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1971), was followed by more than one hundred one-person exhibitions, including “John Chamberlain: Sculpture, An Extended Exhibition,” Dia Art Foundation (1982–85); “John Chamberlain: Sculpture, 1954–1985,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1986); “John Chamberlain,” Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (1991); “John Chamberlain: Sculpture,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1996); “John Chamberlain: Foam sculptures (1966–1979); Photographs (1989–2004),” Chinati Foundation, Marfa (2005–06); and “John Chamberlain: American Tableau,” Menil Collection, Houston (2009). His most recent retrospective, “Choices,” was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2012. Other recent exhibitions include “Chamberlain at the Fairchild,” Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida (2012–13); an installation of four monumental sculptures at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2013); and “John Chamberlain: It Ain't Cheap,” Dan Flavin Art Institute, Dia Art Foundation, Bridgehampton, New York (2014).