Martin Puryear was born in Washington, D.C., in 1941. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Catholic University of America in 1963, and then entered the Peace Corps, serving in Sierra Leone from 1964 to 1966. After leaving the Peace Corps, he was admitted to the Swedish Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm. In Sweden, he also served as an assistant to the master cabinet and furniture maker James Krenov, who influenced Puryear’s perspective on materials.
After returning from Sweden, Puryear entered the graduate sculpture program at Yale University, where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree in 1971. Yale also awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1994.
Puryear represented the United States in the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1989, where his exhibit won the Grand Prize. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture. His works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.;
the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In Untitled Martin Puryear explores the idea of revolution around a fixed center and the subtly changing relationship of the sculpture to its surroundings. Like most of Puryear’s work, Untitled is an abstract form that suggests a man-made structure or vessel. The artist combines a lifetime of influences in his work—traditional craft techniques from Sierra Leone from his time in the Peace Corps, Scandinavian basketry and furniture design from his undergraduate years in Sweden, the influence of 1970’s minimalism and a life-long desire to make things, rather than representations.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
ABOUT THE SCULPTURE
80″ x 72″
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Scarecrow, 2006 Tom Claassen
Untitled (Two Rabbits), 2004 Jonathan Clarke
Lifestyle, 2006 Niki de Saint Phalle
Adam & Eve, 1985-1989 Jim Dine
Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels, 2008 Mark di Suvero
Aesop’s Fables, 1990 Jean-Michel Folon
Voyage, 1999 Laura Ford
Bird, 2007 Keith Haring
Untitled (Ringed Figure), 1987 Käi
Love Vs. Money, 2017 Fernand Léger
Femmes Au Perroquet, 1952 Aristide Maillol
La Riviere, 1938 – 1943 Ju Ming
Tai Chi Singlewhip, 1998 Igor Mitoraj
Eros Bendato, 1999 Julian Opie
Kiera & Julian Walking, 2002
Bruce & Sara Walking, 2007 Tom Otterness
Kindly Geppetto, 2001 Mimmo Paladino
Zenit, 1999 Martin Puryear
Untitled (Bench), 2008 George Rickey
Four Rectangles Oblique, 1979 Tony Smith
Night, 1962 Bernar Venet
2 Arcs X 4, 230.5 Degree, Arc X 5, 1999-2000 Erwin Wurm
Big Suit, 2010 Kan Yasuda
Door of Return, 2001 Jack Youngerman