John Chamberlain

(1927 - 2011)

About The Artist


For over sixty years, John Chamberlain constructed welded metal sculptures using crumpled and distorted automobile parts. After studying sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina in the 1950s, he began working primarily with car parts. He recalls, “It was like, God, I finally found an art supply, and it was so cheap it just made you laugh.” In 1961, his sculpture was included in The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in the following year he began exhibiting his work at the Leo Castelli Gallery, these shows earning him invitations to the 1961 São Paulo Biennale and the 1964 Venice Bienalle. As he continued to construct his trademark large-scale automobile sculptures, Chamberlain experimented with some of the same materials for his mixed-media relief paintings. Untitled Relief (1962) is an early example of this departure in stature and form, a complex tangle of rusted metal scraps exploding from a canvas of stapled brown paper. Chamberlain has been honored with major retrospectives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1971, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1986, and the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Germany in 1991. In 2012, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrated Chamberlain's career with a retrospective titled John Chamberlain: Choices.


Cohen, David. “The Probity of Modernism: Collages by John Chamberlain and Alfred Leslie.” Art Critical, 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
“John Chamberlain.” Guggenheim Museum. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2011.
Kennedy, Randy. “A Crusher of Cars, a Molder of Metal.” New York Times, 8 May 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.