James Hampton’s “The Throne of the Third Heaven” — American Art Moments
James Hampton's The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly is one of the most important and beloved artworks at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and it is full of mysteries. Discover more as Leslie Umberger, SAAM's curator of folk and self-taught art, shares insights into Hampton's life as a self-taught artist of color creating in Washington, DC, during the Civil Rights movement, and the lasting importance of his efforts. The Throne, a monumental artwork with more than 180 components wrapped in gold and silver foil, came fully to light only after the artist's death. While Hampton’s views on his life’s work went undocumented, the splendor and magnitude of his project is evident to all who experience this powerful yet enigmatic artwork.
This video is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's ongoing series American Art Moments. Join a SAAM expert and go beyond the artwork label to discover the untold stories and rich connections represented in some of the museum's most iconic artworks.