Remembering Sculptor Richard Hunt, 1935-2023

On December 16, 2023, renowned sculptor Richard Hunt passed away.

Hailing from Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, Hunt’s career spanned decades. According to the Smithsonian Institute of Art, Hunt became “the foremost African-American abstract sculptor and artist of public sculpture.” Hunt had over 150 solo exhibitions, and even former president Barack Obama stated “Hunt [was] one of the greatest artists Chicago had produced.

Hunt’s Slowly Towards the North, which commemorates the large migration of African Americans from the South to the North

Hunt showed an interest in art from an early age, and took up sculpture as a teenager, even turning the basement of his father’s barber shop into a studio. After graduating high school, he went on to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

His work played with the interaction of organic figures with industrial materials. He was heavily influenced and inspired by Pablo Picasso, Julio González, and David Smith. Hunt received his first sculpture commission in 1967 known as Play, which was commissioned by the State of Illinois Public Art Program. It was received so well that he went on to be commissioned for over 160 public sculptures throughout 24 states.

Hunt attended the open-casket funeral of Emmet Till, an experience that influenced his art for the rest of his life. As late as this year, Hunt finished a sculptural model for the monument Hero Ascending, a tribute to Emmett Till which will be installed at Till’s childhood home.

In this video clip, listen to Studs Terkel interview Hunt for the United States Department Of Health, Education and Welfare.

A portrait of young Hunt



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