David Hammons was born in Springfield, Illinois on July 24, 1943. He later moved to Los Angeles in 1962. From 1966 to 1968, he attended Chouinard Art Institute, now known as CalArts, and then the Otis Art Institute from 1968 to 1972. In 1974, he moved to New York City, where he became primarily known for his work during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Inspired by a combination of Arte Povera and Dada, Hammons creates installations, performance art, and sculpture which explore and confront cultural stereotypes and racial issues. He is known to utilize unusual material such as elephant dung, chicken parts, and strands of African-American hair. Hammons's controversial work provides a sarcastic element while illuminating racism and class discrimination. His most contentious piece was in 1988, when he painted a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white Jesse Jackson on a billboard. Along with the image read the text “How You Like Me Now?” The billboard was quickly destroyed by a group of young black men.
Hammons's work is collected by major public and private institutions internationally, among them: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge; Glenstone, Potomac; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; SMAK, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent; Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris; Francois Pinault Foundation, Venice; and Tate Britain, London. He currently lives and works in New York City.