James Hampton, American visionary artist, worked on one piece of religious art for nearly fifteen years. It was the only piece of art he worked on.|
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millenium General Assembly, a perpetual work in progress and his monument to the return of Christ, was discovered after his death in 1964.
Hampton was born in 1909 in rural town of Elloree, South Carolina. He came to Washington D.C. to live with a relative and after he did service in the United States Army (1942-1945) he got a job working for the U.S. government's General Service Administration (GSA) as a janitor.
Apparently around 1950 Hampton began working on his life's project. Although begun somewhere else, the main studio for the throne was a garage located at 1133 N Street, Northwest in Washington, D.C.
Art critic Robert Hughes, writing in Time magazine wrote that The Throne "may well be the finest work of visionary religious art produced by an American." The piece actually consists of some 180 objects, including the throne chair, altar table, pulpits and offertory tables. It is a collage of furniture, aluminum and gold foils, light bulbs and other discarded material put together with glue, upholstery tacks, nails and straight pins. It is likely that Hampton retrieved some of his material from the garbage cans in the offices of the GSA.
Found with The Throne was a government-issue notebook called The Book of the 7 Dispensation of St. James. Despite his relatively humble nature, Hampton apparently considered himself a prophet, "St. James." The notebook, microfilmed by the Smithsonian Institution, was written in a secret language. In a brochure produced by the Smithsonian it is speculated that the cryptic text might be either a translation of St. John's revelation or "an entirely original vision." But nobody knows because the secret alphabet used by Hampton has not yet been decoded. At the bottom of each page of the notebook the word "Revelation" appears.
Hampton's use of the word "dispensation" is a reference to a fundamentalist religious movement that achieved some popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dispensationalists believe in the literal return or Second Coming of Christ. Hampton's throne was apparently constructed in anticipation of that event.
Hampton's Throne can be viewed at the National Museum of American Art located in Washington, D.C.
The Cosmic Baseball Association is honored to present this Memorial Plate in memory of a unique American artist with a unique vision.