The whispers surrounding “David Hammons: Five Decades” were as important to the exhibition as the art itself. Accounts of the show tend to focus on how Hammons revisited the gallery on multiple occasions to contribute additional framed materials and reposition those artworks already included, and on how his last-minute changes to the show’s installation meant the works featured in the catalogue did not match up with the works on view, as if the real story was about Hammons and his enigmatic ways. Indeed, every exhibition review seems to describe a different show altogether, reflecting the way in which it changed from one week to the next. As such, “Five Decades” posed a critique of spectatorship and historiography that raises questions about the “career survey” genre. Hammons’s interventions served as acts of misdirection that operated as strategies to write history, forcing
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