One of America’s most important living artists, the 77-year-old Puryear has long been a leader in his field. Working primarily in wood, his large-scale sculptures bridge craft and art, bringing fine woodworking methods to often monumental fine art sculpture. An interest in materials and process often aligned with craft defines his work, creating an intimacy and delicacy that is rare with such monolithic works. Influenced by minimalism and postminimalism, Puryear creates abstract organic forms that have character and humor, full of references that engage our emotions and our history as a country. Puryear also works in stone and metal, and is a painter and printmaker.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today that artist Martin Puryear to represent the US at the 2019 Venice Biennale. In its 58th year, the Biennale will run May 11 through Nov. 24, 2019. The Madison Square Park Conservancy will serve as this year’s curator of the United States Pavilion and will commision site-specific work from Puryear. Puryear follows 2017’s representative for the US, painter Mark Bradford.
Puryear has received many accolades in his nearly half-century-long career. A MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, he received the National Medal of Arts in 2012. In 2007, he was the subject of a 30-year survey at the Museum of Modern Art, which went on to travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Getty. His large-scale public sculptures can be found across the country.