David Hammons

Elusively influential artist gaming the artworld

Hammons dedicated a solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles – his first show in the city for over 45 years – to a pioneer of free jazz, Ornette Coleman. The artist was an acolyte of LA’s jazz scene when he went to CalArts during the 1960s, and Hammons has also spent his life resisting conventions and improvising his own career trajectory. So it is that an artist who disdains the artworld can show at a blue-chip commercial gallery (installing something akin to a homeless encampment of tents in view of Hauser & Wirth’s snazzy restaurant); how an artist whose most famous work involved selling snowballs on a New York sidewalk is now recreating in skeletal steel a warehouse that once stood on the Hudson River’s Pier 52. That permanent public artwork dedicated to community broke ground this year with one false note: Warren Kanders, the teargas manufacturer who resigned from the board of the Whitney after protests, is among its funders.