Learn / Create

John Chamberlain

Exploring Movement
New York April 15th, 2020

John Chamberlain is best known for his sculptures created from parts of old automobiles that bring the Abstract Expressionism style of painting into three dimensions. This work and many others of his use a dynamic color and energy, one that exudes a juxtaposition of elegance with brute force and fierceness. Chamberlain uses rich hues, intricately applied paint and the coloristic effects of movement to convert the painterly form of an earlier generation into an inspired structure. Stencils, drips, and splattered paint onto some of the small carved planes, as well as a rich undercoat is revealed in a complex veining where the surface paint has crackled. The light palette decreases the sense of weight and quickens the movement of light across the metallic surfaces, making the bands that twist and cascade down from the top flutter like ribbons caught in the air.

The viewer is not sure where the artist’s hand begins-which paint streaks and scratch marks were at the scrap yard and which were added, nor is it certain whether the parts were found in their present condition or altered.1

1 John Chamberlain: Early Years


Third Dimension: Works from The Brant Foundation (The Brant Foundation, New York)

John Chamberlain: Choices


Chamberlain often describes his work as having a stance or comparing its form to someone who is dancing. Explore the ways that this sculpture moves and or dances through drawing. Try to draw the outlines of what you see while keeping your eyes on the artwork and not lifting your pencil from the paper! What kind of movements do you see in your drawing?