American, b. 1943
Rock Head, 2000
Stone, hair, metal stand
35.6 x 27.9 x 12.7 cm (14 x 11 x 5 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2001.31.1
One of contemporary art’s most compelling and elusive figures, David Hammons draws upon his identity as an African American for his sculptures, performances, and installations. Inspired by the 1960s Italian Arte Povera (Poor Art) movement with its use of everyday materials to create metaphorical imagery, Rock Head embodies a strikingly elegant human form with remarkable simplicity, roughness, and asymmetry. Reminiscent of both Brancusi’s modernist ovoid heads and archeological remains, the smooth boulder is thatched with hair swept up from the floor of a Harlem barbershop. Hammons began using human hair from barbershops in the 1970s for installations in Harlem lots. In these sculptures it is important to Hammons that African American viewers find reflections of themselves in the artwork.