David Hammons

Elusively influential artist gaming the artworld

Among the most expensive of American living artists, Hammons has for decades been exemplary in gaming the artworld he despises. Mostly he’s done so while staying hidden, refusing all retrospectives (he did curate one this year: at MoMA, of pioneering artist Charles White, who died in 1979). Lately, though, while fundraising for his private museum in Yonkers, New York, the artist who once sited his sculptures directly in black neighbourhoods has gone overground, engaging more with commercial galleries. Meanwhile CCA Wattis in San Francisco has staged a yearlong series of public events, commissioned essays and reading groups around the artist’s work and persona. And Hammons’s recently announced public commission in Manhattan – a spectral sculptural outline of the pier warehouse where Gordon Matta-Clark worked, a glimmering elegy for freedoms annihilated by gentrification – will, in classically elusive Hammons style, make him more visible via something that’s barely there.