Born in 1927 in Rochester, Indiana, John Chamberlain grew up in Chicago. After serving in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago (1951–52) and Black Mountain College (1955–56). Chamberlain moved to New York in 1956 and the following year made Shortstop, his first sculpture incorporating automobile parts. His work was included in the "Art of Assemblage" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1961, and he began showing at Leo Castelli's New York gallery in 1962. Chamberlain had his first retrospective in 1971, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, held a second retrospective in 1986. He currently lives and works on Shelter Island, New York.