Richard Hunt (1935-2023)

Richard Hunt, a renown master sculptor and abstract artist whose towering bronze art sculptures and installations sought to capture the resilience of the Black American experience, died Saturday at his home at age 88.

News of Hunt’s death was announced on his official website and social media accounts.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Hunt, visionary Chicago sculptor and activist,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a written statement. “A lifelong Chicagoan, his extraordinary career spanning 70 years leaves an indelible impact on our city and our world.”

The mayor also noted Hunt’s immense body of work that included more than 160 works across the country, including numerous installations in Chicago, including “Flight Forms” at Midway Airport, “Jacob’s Ladder” at the Woodson Regional Library, and the Ida B. Wells Memorial in the city’s Bronzeville community.

In a 70-year career that has gifted him with numerous awards and recognitions, the South Side bred Hunter — the son of a city librarian and a barber — Hunt has been called one of the greatest living artists with an immense body of work that has spanned the globe. Many of his works were installed on college campuses, libraries, city streets and corporate headquarters.

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In 1971, Hunt became the first African American sculptor to be given a retrospective by Modern Museum of Art in New York.

Of late, Hunt was commissioned to create a 15-foot stainless steel piece that was to sit adjacent to the Emmett Till/Mamie Till-Mobley historic home in Woodlawn. He was also commissioned to create a sculpture called “Book Bird” for the Obama Presidential Center.

In an interview with the Tribune last August, Hunt said he had no plans to retire and revealed that he had no favorites among his own work.

“When you’ve done a lot of things, it’s hard to say ‘well, this is it.’ I’m very interested to be doing the Emmett Till piece,” he said. “The idea of … doing a piece to draw attention to him is important because it goes back to an earlier generation that we both came out of.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Public Library Foundation gave Hunt its arts award to honor his impact of Chicago’s artistic community. Last year, he was the subject of a 400-page book, “Richard Hunt” by LeRonn Brooks, Jordan Carter, Adrienne Childs, Jon Ott and John Yau.

A private funeral service will be held, but a celebration of art and life that is open to the public, will be held in the spring, with dates to be announced.

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