Born in Chicago in 1935, Hunt developed an interest in art from an early age. From seventh grade on he attended the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He went on to study there at the college level, receiving a B.A.E. in 1957. A traveling fellowship from the School of the Art Institute took him to England, France, Spain and Italy the following year. While still a student at SAIC, he began exhibiting his sculpture nationwide and during his Junior year one of his pieces, “Arachne,” was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1962, he was the youngest artist to exhibit at Seattle’s World Fair.
In 1967, Hunt’s career in sculpture began to take him outside the studio with his first large scale public sculpture commission, “Play” (the first sculpture commissioned by the State of Illinois’ Public Art Program). This piece marked the beginning of what Hunt refers to as “his second career,” a career that gave him the opportunity to work on sculpture that responded to the specifics of architectural or other designed spaces and the dynamics of diverse communities and interests. Since that time he has created over one hundred and fifty commissioned works. Many of them are in the Chicago area. Among them are “Jacob’s Ladder” at the Carter G. Woodson Library at 9525 S Halsted, “Freeform” on the exterior facade of the State of Illinois Center at 160 N LaSalle, “Flight Forms” at Midway Airport on the corner of 59th and Cicero, and “We Will” at the Heritage building on the corner of Randolph and Garland Court.
Hunt has received accolades and recognition throughout his career and was the first African-American sculptor to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work can be found in numerous museums as well as both public and private collections, including the Art institute of Chicago, the National Gallery and National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1968 he was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to serve on the National Council on the Arts, the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received many fellowships, prizes and awards and holds fifteen honorary degrees from universities all over the country. In 2009, Hunt was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center.