John Chamberlain

  • Born 1927 in Rochester, IN, USA
  • Died 2011 in New York, NY, USA
John Chamberlain is renowned for assembling automobile parts into abstract constructions of vivid shapes and color. Although this makes him an acclaimed representative of Junk Art, his spontaneous, gestural work with industrially fabricated material has earned him associations with Abstract Expressionism, Pop art and Minimalism. Chamberlain began what would become his distinctive body of work in the late 1950s, when he moved to New York upon completing his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In 1961, Chamberlain’s unique approach led to his inclusion in The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art. During the late 1960s, Chamberlain expanded his sculptural vocabulary to urethane foam, galvanized steel, aluminum foil and brown paper bags. Even his photographic experiments, which he began in 1977, retained his instinctive, motion-driven approach. Moving the camera in sharp gestures across the room, Chamberlain generated the illusion of “bending space,” cross-referencing his sculptural achievements. Since his inclusion in the biennials of São Paulo (1961) and Venice (1964), Chamberlain has received major solo exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1971 and 2012), the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (1986) and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1996).