Martin Puryear is internationally known for his sculptures, which resist easy identification. Working in materials including wood, stone, metal, and mesh, he investigates history, identity, and culture. His sculptures appear abstract, but reference recognizable shapes such as the human head, caps, carriages, and architectural structures. He utilizes various techniques that demonstrate his carefulness and attention to detail. The sculptures often involve woodworking and depict shapes inspired by nature. As a young man, Puryear volunteered with the Peace Corps in West Africa, where he learned about the region’s indigenous crafts. This knowledge, in addition to modernist abstraction, clearly influence his sculptural work.
Puryear has been making prints throughout his career. This exhibition features a small group of etchings and woodcuts recently added to our collection. Like his sculptures, his prints combine forms, processes and a meditative approach. Puryear explores a wide range of techniques in these prints, creating work that is organic, reductive, referential, and often geometric.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, you may enjoy Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, a glimpse into the creative process of a major contemporary sculptor, featuring many previously unseen works on paper.This catalogue focuses on a selection of works from the 1990s through the end of 2000, most of them marked by increasing assertiveness, scale, and volume. Puryear has always stood apart, outside the prevailing trends in the contemporary art world. Since the mid-1970s he has created an outstanding body of sculpture that builds on the tradition of organic abstraction. Carrying this tradition forward, Puryear incorporates a minimalist simplicity of form and an emphasis on process and materials that aligns him with postminimalist sculptors. His approach to making sculpture is based in traditional craft techniques. Rather than carving or casting, his primary interest is in building, constructing, and assembling - using accumulative processes such as wrapping, tying, and weaving, or lamination and joinery.This catalogue focuses on a selection of works from the 1990s through the end of 2000, most of them marked by increasing assertiveness, scale, and volume. To encounter Martin Puryear's sculptures is to experience a world of powerful yet richly ambiguous objects.