And You, Seas, 2002. Welded stainless steel, 48 ft. high. Work installed at Silver Beach Park, St. Joseph, MI.

Richard Hunt: Voyage Through Modernism

Richard Hunt’s sculptural journey began in the 1950s with his startling achievements as a prodigy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While he was still a student, his work was shown at a New York gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art acquired one of his sculptures. Fourteen years later, that student work, Arachne, appeared on the cover of the catalogue for Hunt’s MoMA retrospective (1971). William S. Lieberman, MoMA’s director of painting and sculpture and curator of the exhibition, stated in his introductory essay that “Richard Hunt ranks as one of America’s foremost living sculptors.” The New York Times echoed that praise in a review of the show, calling Hunt “one of our virtuoso practitioners of ‘open-form’ sculpture.”

A modestly sized, welded steel sculpture fabricated from found objects, including an automobile muffler and two lampshades, Arachne depicts the mythological weaver as transformed into a spider by Athena. The sculpture previewed Hunt’s lifelong interests in mythology and biology and introduced a major theme of his early work: metamorphosis. Appearing like something from a science-fiction film, Arachne resonates with major moments of Modernism, Surrealism, the assemblage sculpture of Picasso, and the open-form sculpture of Picasso’s friend, protégé, and technical advisor Julio González.