Another one of the strangest artistic masterworks known to man
James Hampton was a quiet man, working for the General Services Administration as a janitor for all of his life. He was a boarder; he lived simply; he kept to himself. In 1950, he rented out a small garage out 'for a project'. He worked on this 'project' every day until he died, dragging in bits of trash, cans, cardboard, and tinfoil into the garage. Only a few people knew what he was doing - a friend who brought him food, a few reporters from the local newspaper (Hampton had called them up to get them interested in the 'project' - they ridiculed him and left), and one or two others. When Hampton passed away in 1964 from natural causes, word slowly got out about the project, with hype building every day, until it was snapped up by the National Collection of Fine Arts. They had bought a massive piece of art entitled 'The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millennium General Assembly'.
The Throne of the Third Heaven is a glittering setpiece, made from 177 different constructions, assembled out of junk and held together with rusty nails and tinfoil. And it's amazing. Hampton put fourteen years of work into this, often working 5 to 6 hours a night on it, and it shows. The amount of detail, the fineness of the gold and silver foil that covers nearly every surface... again, impossible to describe. It's said to nearly stun people with its splendour and glory.
Hampton built the throne after having a series of 'visions', and for him, the construction of the throne was how he communicated personally with God. He apparently thought he was a prophet, keeping a notebook full of undecipherable scrawlings, in the same manner that God instructed Saint John to scribble down the vision of the Second Coming in a mysterious language. Hampton told people that he dearly wanted to be a preacher; it became apparent after his death that he thought he had something important to say.
The Throne of the Third Heaven is currently on display at The Smithsonian. It's one of my life goals to go visit it someday.