Throne of the Third Heaven: Masterpiece Folk Art Made From Junk

In 1950, a quiet janitor named James Hampton rented an unheated dump of a garage in Washington DC because he was "working on something" and needed a larger space than his room in a nearby boarding house.

Every night after finishing his job, the small, soft-spoken man would work in the garage for five or six hours. Hampton believed that God visited him there regularly to guide him in his project, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly. Adding to the sheer wow factor of the 180 glittering object was how Hampton did it:

An ingenious selection and use of materials and an innate feeling for design characterize Hampton's radiant work. A poor man, he applied his imagination to the transformation of discarded materials. Merchants in the used-furniture district near the garage remember that Hampton would browse, inquire about prices, and sometimes return with a child's wagon to carry away his purchases. All of the objects are covered with different grades of gold and aluminum foils removed from store displays, bottles, cigarette boxes, and rolls of kitchen foil. Hampton paid neighborhood indigents for the foil on their wine bottles, and he walked the streets with a croker sack in which to carry his finds. He also gathered used light bulbs, cardboard, insulation board, construction paper, desk blotters, and sheets of transparent plastic, probably from the trash of the government buildings where he worked.

Hampton's masterpiece is now on display in the Smithsonian: Link - via Officially Awesome, thanks Kellie Bartlett (that was definitely, *officially* awesome!)


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About once a week I would detour through the museum on my way to grad school classes just to stand in awe before this wonderful work of art. It was so attractive and compelling could not help myself. I am imploring the Smithsonian Magazine to do a photo article on the work. Can you help?
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I just visited the Hampton Throne room at the Smithsonian and it is breathtaking. The curator told me that there are many more pieces to this assemblage, but they did a heck of a job setting it up. Go if you possibly can!
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If you're ever visiting Baltimore, head over to the American Visionary Art Museum, it's an amazing place with an impressive collection of "outsider art" that's fascinating. Their website (http://www.avam.org) is a little wacky, but that's to be expected!
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I agree with Shay. This kind of work shouldn't be discounted as "outsider," when it rivals that of anything you'd see in a house of worship.
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James Hampton, Hanry Darger, Edward Leedskalnin... discounted as "outsider art?" Who are these "insiders" anyway? These small, quiet men created the most pure, genuine, inspired expression you'll rarely see within the pretentious walls of an art gallery.
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