In the early 2000s, I had the pleasure of meeting John Chamberlain and his lovely wife Prudence at his Shelter Island, NY studio. Through the years, they were kind enough to allow me to bring clients there to purchase his artwork. Walking into his studio always made me smile. The cavernous space was piled high with twisted pieces of multi-colored metal, reminding me of huge Ribbon candy, and John was always sitting in the middle of it all holding court.
Although Chamberlain was notorious for being a bit cantankerous, he was very kind to me and we loved to joke about being displaced Hoosiers. My appreciation for his work has grown over the years, especially after I viewed his retrospective at the Guggenheim shortly after his death.
This recent acquisition to Eckert Fine Art is from his Tonks series. The Tonks are very special, as they are from a short time period when he made sculptures from Tonka parts he had acquired in bulk from an abandoned Tonka Toy factory in 1981. Unlike some of his larger sculpture, this piece has a light-hearted intimacy in its scale, but still projects the monumental force and weight that is characteristic of his work.
In my mind, Chamberlain is one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, an influential player in the Abstract Expressionist movement who used metal sculpture to radically emphasize his creativity.
- Jane Eckert