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David Hammons, Untitled, 1992  92.128a-u
David Hammons, Untitled, 1992. Copper, wire, hair, stone, fabric, and thread, height 60 in. (152.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest and the Painting and Sculpture Committee  92.128a-u For Teachers

about this work

Finding inspiration in the streets and everyday life of the Harlem community where he lived in the early 1990s, David Hammons gathers castoff, ordinary, and ephemeral materials—ranging from fried chicken wings and liquor bottles to dirt and snow—for use in sculptures and performance works. In this untitled sculpture, an array of spiky tendrils seems to sprout from a small bed of smooth stones. A combination of the organic and the manmade, the plant- or spider-like form here is composed of bits of kinked black hair—gathered from the sweepings of barbershops—that are attached to long metal wires. Pieces of hair inevitably fall beneath and around the work, evoking natural processes of change and decay. Like much of Hammons’s art, Untitled summons an uncanny sensation of the strangeness that often lies just below the surface of the familiar. The work also alludes to vernacular African-American traditions of making art out of whatever is at hand, and the hair suggests the presence of an extended community of countless anonymous individuals who indirectly contributed to its creation. 

Audio

Audio guide stop for David Hammons, Untitled, 1992

David Hammons, Untitled, 1992  92.128a-u
David Hammons, Untitled, 1992  92.128a-u

look closer

Describe what you see in this image. Does it remind you of anything?

Look at the top part of this sculpture. What do you notice?

What do you think this sculpture might be made of?

Think about the material that you’ve identified. Could it be a symbol for something? If so, what symbol? 

If you could touch this sculpture, what might it feel like?

Activities

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David Hammons, Untitled, 1992  92.128a-u For Teachers

In this untitled sculpture, David Hammons planted copper wires in stones and wrapped the wires in African-American hair picked up from the floors of barber shops. The overall effect is of a giant, spidery insect—or a spiky head of dreadlocks.

Hammons is interested in hair not just as part of the body, but also as something that has been thrown away. Ask your students to brainstorm some other materials that could be used as art materials but are often thrown away. How would they use these materials to create a work of art? Would they use many amounts of the same item or combine different items? Where could they find these items?

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