John Chamberlain


John Chamberlain was born April 16, 1927 in Rochester, Indiana and grew up in Chicago.  Chamberlain studied at The Art Institute of Chicago fro 1951 to 1952.  During this time he began to make flat, welded sculpture influenced by the work of David Smith. Chamberlain taught and studied sculpture  at Black Mountain College in North Carolina from 1955 to 1956.   By 1957, he began to include scrap metal from cars in his work, and from 1958 onward he concentrated on sculpture built entirely of crushed automobile parts welded together.  Chamberlain's first major solo show was held at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, in 1960.

Chamberlain's work was widely acclaimed in the early 1960's.  His sculpture was inclued in The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1961, the same year he participated in the Sao Paolo Bienal.

From 1962, Chamberlain showed frequently at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, and in 1964 his work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale.  While he continued o make sculpture from auto parts, Chamberlain also experimented with other mediums.  From 1963 to 1965, he made geometric painting with sprayed automobile paint.  In 1966, the same year he received the first of tow fellowships from the John simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he began a series of sculptures of melted or crushed metal and heat-crumpled Plexiglas.  Chamberlain's work was presented in a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1971.

In the early 1970's Chamberlain began once more to make large works from automobile parts. Until the mid-1970s, the artist assembled these auto sculptures on the ranch of collector Stanley Marsh in Amarillo, Texas. These works were shown in the sculpture garden at the Dag Hammarskold Plaza, New York, in 1973, and at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, in 1975. In 1977, Chamberlain began experimenting with photography taken with a panoramic Widelux camera. His next major retrospective was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1986; the museum simultaneously co-published John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954–1985, authored by Julie Sylvester. In 1993, Chamberlain received both the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. In 1997, Chamberlain was named a recipient of The National Arts Club Award, New York, and in 1999, received the Distinction in Sculpture Honor from the Sculpture Center, New York. Over the past decade, the artist has expanded his well- established career by undertaking a new medium: the large-format photograph. In 2007, Guild Hall Academy of the Fine Arts named Chamberlain the Visual Arts Honoree for the 22nd Annual Lifetime Achievement Award. The artist currently lives and works on Shelter Island, New York.

Exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, Chamberlain's work has been included in the ), the Whitney Biennial (1973, 1987) and Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1982). The artist has been the subject of over 100 solo shows, traveling exhibitions and retrospectives including ones at the Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands (1996), the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany (1991), the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany (1991), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1986), and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1971).

John Chamberlain's work is in numerous museum collections worldwide including The Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; Dia Art Foundation: Beacon; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Chamberlain passed away on December 21, 2011.  At the time of his death, the artist resided and worked on Shelter Island, New York.