One of the most gratifying developments in the art world last year was the special attention given to the sculptor John Chamberlain. Although he has hardly been invisible of late—having exhibited regularly over the last five years—three recent exhibitions of Chamberlain’s work in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York allowed us to see the artist in an entirely new light. The shows were augmented by the publication of Julie Sylvester’s John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985,[1] a most welcome event in itself but especially fortuitous this past year.

There are few artists over whom critical opinion has been so sharply divided as John Chamberlain. His work has always been conspicuous and instantly recognizable— factors which may have worked against him over time. From the...


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