Art Lovers Will Melt For ‘The Melt Goes on Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons’

Posted in Theatrical by - June 23, 2023
Art Lovers Will Melt For ‘The Melt Goes on Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons’

The Melt Goes On Forever is the the sort of joyful and informative art doc that delights viewers. Directed by Harold Crooks and Judd Tully, it tells the story of a famous Black artist who should rightfully be even more famous, David Hammons. Born in 1943 in Springfield, Illinois, Hammons became one of the most innovative artists in New York City history.

Hammons is an fascinating figure. A student of the legendary Black artist Charles White, Hammons became an innovator whose work explored themes of African American history, racism, and Black Culture. Hammons constructed stunning art installations out of Black people’s hair, oiled up his own body to make silkscreen impressions of his body, and once sold snow cones as performance art. And despite the unforgettable nature of his work, Hammons remains beloved by critics and his fellow artists, but has not risen to the level of being a Household Name like hallowed white artists such as Warhol and Duchamp – despite the fact that he’s probably more talented.

The title The Melt Goes On Forever derives from the artist’s cheeky turn selling snow cones as art destined to immediately melt away. It provides us with significant insight into the mind of a notoriously quiet creator. Hammons eschews formal gallery showings and the trappings of the capitalist art world. And that some of his most out-there pieces were inspired by a need to circumvent the high cost of paint. And while he was known to fret about not having sufficient funds for materials, he is vehemently against commercialism and refuses to reproduce art pieces that sell well.

As enigmatic as Hammonds is, his commentary on his art can also be quite telling. Reflecting on how Black artists must be be in dialogue with ideas from dominant white intellectuals and their own communities, Hammons says, “We have to write something to both of these cultures.”

Ultimately, the doc is a fun, immersive ride that makes you feel the chaotic joy of the 70s art scene. Jazz music, shots of old-style subway cars and interviews with Hammons’ reminiscing colleagues coalesce to create an undeniably cool vibe. And while Hammons himself dislikes exhibits, this doc is a permanent celluloid celebration of his groundbreaking creations. What a wonderful contribution to art history!

You won’t regret watching this movie. It’s a delicious feast for the senses and an important lesson in art history for your mind.

This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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