Richard Hunt
American, born 1935
Hero Construction
1958

Steel (welded and chromed)
64 x 29 in. (without base) 5 in. (approx. base)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Maremont, 1958.528

Hero Construction consists entirely of found objects—old pipes, bits of metal, and parts from automobiles—that artist Richard Hunt discovered in junkyards and on the street. Using a torch like a paintbrush, Hunt welded these metal parts together to create a partially abstract, yet somewhat recognizable, form. This sculpture reveals the artist’s fascination with the concept of transformation from one physical state to another, such as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. This interest was inspired in part by the Chicago native’s part-time work at a zoology laboratory while studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

On the basis of its title and resemblance to a standing figure, Hero Construction can be related to other sculptures past and present, from ancient statues of Greek heroes to modern monuments of statesmen. The ungainly but erect form of the sculpture suggests a contemporary hero who maintains strength in the face of the uncertainties and dangers of the present age.

A decade after he made this sculpture, Hunt began what he calls his "second career" in public sculpture. He purchased a former power station on Chicago’s North Side and converted it into a studio. There, he uses cranes and other industrial equipment to work with massive sheets of bronze and steel. In this environment, Hunt has produced over 100 monumental public sculptures, commissioned from across the nation.