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Richard Hunt, an abstract sculptor, died at 88.

Arts and EntertainmentRichard Hunt, an abstract sculptor, died at 88.

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Richard Hunt, an artist who found national fame with his abstract metal sculptures assembled from chrome fender, gnarled bumpers, twisted pipes and other junkyard mainstays, went on to reach a wider audience with his soaring public art commissions, monumental works that often evoked African American history and culture. His death was announced in a statement on his website. Mr. Hunt created works of steel, bronze, copper and iron that rose like trees or fire and spread outward like wings. The 35-foot tall "Flight Forms" which greets visitors to Chicago's Midway International Airport was one of his sculptures. Jon Ott said in a phone interview that the idea of movement into metal was core to Richard Hunt's aesthetic. The rise of the modern civil rights movement was related to Hunt's early career. He went to the open-casket funeral of Emmett Till, the Black teenager who was murdered in 1955, because he wanted to learn how to weld. Mr. Hunt was born in the same Chicago neighborhood as Till and he grew up there. Mr. Hunt said that he could have been the victim of the lynching of Till. He made sculptures of prominent Black Americans including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Owens, and Ida B. Wells. He once said that sculpting is not a self-declaration, but a voice of and for my people, Hunt, who also drew from nature, mythology and the varied sounds of classical music. He was known for his metal sculptures that were purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York when he was just 21. The first retrospective for an African American sculptor was held in 1971 at the MoMA. The National Council on the Arts was established by Mr. Johnson and there are only a few American sculptors. Barack Obama commissioned Mr. Hunt to create a piece for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, which is scheduled to open in 2025.

The library sculpture was one of the last works created by Mr. Hunt, and the model for the Till monument brought his career full circle. The studio crew is working on a monument that will be placed outside of Till's childhood home. His parents were barbers and librarians, so they steered him toward music. Hunt was influenced by a picture of two dogs that he kept in his studio for decades, and by shows he saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, including a 1953 exhibition that featured works by Giacometti and Gonzlez. After graduating from the art school, he spent a year in Europe studying art and was drafted into the Army. He was stationed in San Antonio and participated in a planned sit-in at a Woolworth's. The first voluntary lunch counter integration campaign in the South was led by the local NAACP chapter and involved Mr. Hunt sitting down for lunch without protest. Hunt slept on a mattress on the floor in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, where he worked since the early 1970s, often with his tools and sculptures spread out around him. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1962, served as an artist-in-residence at schools including Harvard and Yale, and began his second career as a public sculptor. His first marriage ended in divorce, but more than 160 of his sculptures now grace cities in a number of states. Lenora Cartright, a former Chicago commissioner of human services, died in 1989. Hunt's first wife, Cecilia Hunt, and a sister are among the survivors. He wrote on his website that he would provide the physical evidence of his and his family living on this planet. It is less than a full blown case, but it is good that I can leave this evidence here for a while.

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