African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012
In 1950 the Container Corporation of America began commissioning artists to create works for its advertising campaign, “Great Ideas of Western Man.” For the title of this work, Richard Hunt selected a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1852 novel, The Blithedale Romance. He was drawn to Hawthorne’s tale of how a utopian commune is ruined by its members’ selfish actions and its look at the differences between living in the city and in the country. The artist takes the city’s “junk,” in this case car parts, and welds them together to form organic shapes that evoke what Hunt described as “the sense of freedom one has in contemplating nature.” Here, discarded fenders appear to struggle in all directions, as if they were trying to expand. Hunt implied different stages of growth by giving the core a dull finish and the appendages a polished shine that suggests a newborn organism.
“The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool; the truest heroism, is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.” Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852
“The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool; the truest heroism, is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.”–Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852. From the series Great Ideas.
- Not on view
- 32 x 50 5⁄8 x 33 3⁄4 in. (81.3 x 128.7 x 85.8 cm.)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Container Corporation of America
- Mediums Description
- chromed and welded steel
- Allegory – quality – fortitude
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI