John Chamberlain (American, 1927-2011) had his 1st solo exhibition in the UK recently, surprisingly so, not until 2015. Curator Paul Nesbitt spearheaded Chamberlain’s installation at Inverleith House in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden as a celebration from his six-decade long career from whence he became known for “scrap metal” sculptures, often from car parts.
Born in 1927 in Indiana to a saloon-keeper father and waitress mother, after their divorce he was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Chicago. He later found a home with the spirit of the avant-garde at Black Mountain College (c. 1955-56) where he was able to explore his unique approach to the three-dimensional object.
His aesthetic is called [by Rachel Spence in the Financial Times 08/23/15] innately pictoral, and it is this that sets him apart from his other contemporaries, David Smith, the first American sculptor to weld steel, or Rauschenberg, who also used “junk metal”. Influenced by the sensitivity to color of DeKooning, Chamberlain went on to a career of acclaim, befriending Donald Judd among others, who permitted another inspiring installation of work in Marfa, Texas that we had the pleasure of visiting.