MARK DI SUVERO: In the middle of building the piece Hankchampion, I had just about finished, and I got my back broken. So the piece was finished with the help of my brother whose name is Hank. I named it after him and the company that provided the chain, which was Champion Chain Company at the time. So that’s how it got its name.
NARRATOR: New York based artist Mark Di Suvero talks about the genesis of his sculpture from 1960.
MARK DI SUVERO: Hankchampion was built out of the wood of destroyed buildings.
They tore down a whole street which is now Water Street, and they were old, one hundred-year old buildings that were there, part of the fish market, and the coffee market, and things like that. I took that wood, carried on my shoulders up stairs, and built sculpture with a straight relationship to the paintings of that time, and to an idea that space had some kind of a symbolic value of freedom.
And those sculptures that I was doing at the time were large, abstract, wooden, because I couldn’t get any other material.
The whole idea of abstract thinking is something that really dominated, I think, early twentieth century art. These were the people that were the pioneers, the people that I looked up to, like Kline and de Kooning and Still and Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko. Some of them I met, some of them had died before I came to New York. These were the grown up painters, and I was a kid.