Over the course of his career, Hammons has carved out a singular position. He first came to prominence in the 1970s—when issues of politics, race and sexuality were coming to the fore in the art world—with a series of prints made using his own body. He went on to make performances (selling snowballs on the street), sculptures (rock heads covered with hair clippings from Harlem barbershops), and installations (a darkened gallery where visitors were given tiny flashlights). His work draws on an eclectic range of tactics and techniques and reveals affinities and influences as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, jazz and improvisation, Bruce Nauman, the Watts Tower, Ed Kienholz, and street culture. Yet he discreetly injects sociological content into the tropes of conceptual art, offering mordant commentary on the position of African-Americans within the dominant culture – as well as his own status as a maverick black artist within an elite art system. His strategies for engaging with this system, as well as his incursions into the market, have rendered him a legendary figure whose impact is all the greater for his apparent elusiveness. Hammons is a provocateur par excellence, the fox in the henhouse of conceptual art.
—Courtesy of White Cube