Artist Richard Hunt Has Died

Portrait of Richard Hunt by Sandro Miller.

By CGN Staff

On Saturday sculptor Richard Hunt's studio announced that the artist had died at home at age 88.

CGN was fortunate to interview Hunt in early 2023 for our spring issue. Hunt was known for being as kind as he was prolific, and his career spanned more than 70 years, making an impact on public art, the field of sculpture and Chicago's global art reputation. Hunt was born and raised in Chicago, and he made a special point over many years to share how much living and working in Chicago meant to him. 

This spring Hunt shared with CGN that he was greatly influenced by his mother, an artist and librarian, and he spent much of his childhood enjoying museums and opera performances, fostering his passion for the arts. “I grew up with my parents on the Southside, near Woodlawn and Englewood.” He was soon captivated by sculpture, even building his own bedroom art studio where he could sculpt with clay long before he discovered wax and soldered wires, and eventually sheet metal and found objects like automative scrap. In his final years working as an artist he was commissioned to create "Bird Book," a special work for the Obama Center, under construction on Chicago's South Side and expected to open in 2025. 


Richard in his Chicago studio,  March, 2012, preparing for his career overview exhibition: Mutable Currency, Past and Present, presented that summer.

He's standing behind Linear Spacial Theme, from 1962, which was included in his 1971 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Photo via Tom McCormick.


Hunt pursued his Art Education degree at the Art Institute, and it was there as a student that he began his groundbreaking career. While he undoubtedly found his love for art in Chicago and received his formal education there, the decision to remain in his hometown, despite the pull of the art world nucleus forming in New York in the 1960s, did not come without sacrifices. Hunt said he really thought about what he would have found in New York versus Chicago, but that ultimately he decided not to move there. Chicago would always be home to Richard Hunt, but the world would be home to his art. People everywhere may still  appreciate his soaring sculptures and understand his creative message of freedom for decades to come.

Art dealer Tom McCormick, a friend of Hunt's for 50 years, shared, "Once, when interviewing Richard, I broached the question of his fame and legacy. I asked if he thought staying in Chicago, the city of his birth, might have somehow been a handicap to gaining a wider, international notoriety. He thought a moment and said he was grateful for all the good fortune that had come his way... the blessing of getting to do his work as he saw fit and it likely couldn't have happened any better, anywhere else. With that, he turned his attention back to the lucky piece of steel he was pounding on, making the magic happen."


You can read the NYT obituary here

The Chicago Tribune's obituary is here