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Chamberlain and Parenting

John Chamberlain truly valued parenting, so in honor of father’s day, we wanted to share a few of his thoughts and wisdom on the topic.


From a panel discussion at the Ross School (East Hampton, New York) in 2006, Chamberlain revealed his commitment to parenting. The following dialogue occurred between an audience member and Chamberlain:

AM: “ I was going to ask what is the connection to him between art and bringing up kids?”

JC: “Parenting is the hardest job in the world and art is right behind.” (Panel discussion at the Ross School as shown in the documentary film, HEAARTBEAT. Directed by Alexandra Fairweather. New York: Fairweather Films, 2012).


Bernard Kruger, Chamberlain’s friend and doctor remembered the following phone conversation:

JC: “This is Chamberlain”.

BK: “Hi, Chamberlain.”

JC: “I got to talk to you.”

BK: “Okay.”

JC: “I want to adopt some kids.”

BK: “Kids?”

JC: “Kids.”  

BK: “One, Two? How old should they be?”

JC: “3, 4, 5, 7 years old… It would be interesting... I’m interested in them, they will be interested in me, the sculptures…. I think it would be a good thing to do.

BK: “Are you serious?”

JC: “Yes.”

BK: “John, this is a big responsibility.”

JC: “I can take care of them.” (Dr. Bernard Kruger, phone conversation ca. early 90s,  recalled by Kruger during an interview in HEAARTBEAT).


 “Anything that is wrong is poor parenting. Anything stupid that happens, poor parenting. People are going out and doing this and that, it is poor parenting. There are no rules. It requires unskilled labor. Despite making something complicated, it is on the job training.” (John Chamberlain, interview over a breakfast meeting, HEAARTBEAT).


Alex Oliver, Chamberlain’s friend,  remembers the artist telling him to “treat his children like adults,” to “answer any question they ever raise,” and “to keep them busy.” (Alex Oliver, interview, HEAARTBEAT).


“I don’t mean watching television…You could read to them about how to repair a transmission on a 56 Pontiac, they will be just as happy because you are reading to them… It doesn’t matter if they understand what you are talking about. They are words. They are happy, because they are getting a lot of attention.” (John Chamberlain, conversation at the Shelter Island Studio, HEAARTBEAT).  


“This is the hardest stupidest occupation. Don’t let your children grow up to be artists, what an awful idea.” (John Chamberlain, conversation at Shelter Island Studio, HEAARTBEAT).