This work serves as one of David Hammons’s visual jokes, treading a thin line between complicity and critique. The work is Hammons’s first limited edition artist’s book, bound in leather with gold lettering, made to resemble a Bible. When opened, the interior reveals a soft-cover edition of Arturo Schwarz’s book The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp (1970). Hammons borrows Duchamp’s playful attitude toward art and the idea that things are not always as they seem. He cleverly uses a book about Duchamp—the inventor of the readymade (a found object made into art)—as a readymade itself. Although indebted to Duchamp’s pioneering work of the early 1900s, Hammons both challenges and reaffirms Duchamp’s almost sacred position in western art history as the father of conceptual art. Hammons also brings his unique insight and wit to bear on the Bible, one of the most widely read texts in the world, problematizing notions of the artist and religion.


  • Title: The Holy Bible: Old Testament
  • Creator: David Hammons
  • Creator Birth Place: Springfield, Illinois
  • Date Created: 2002
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: Case: 13 3/8 x 10 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (34 x 26.7 x 6 cm)
  • Type: Book
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © David Hammons
  • Medium: Leather bound book in case, edition 9/165
  • Art Form: Books
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of Blake Byrne.

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