Martin Puryear (Sculptor b.1941)

"Old Mole", c. 1985 Martin Puryear

Recently, the sculptor, Martin Puryear had a retrospective exhibit (from November 8, 2008- January 25, 2009) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern of Art (SFMOMA). It followed a major exhibit (from Nov 4, 2007. -January 14, 2008 ) in New York at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

They featured 47 sculptures that charted the development of Puryear's career spanning over the last 30 years.

I had planned for several months to go up to San Francisco for the exhibit but I missed it. My family came down with some kind of cold starting with my 4 month old baby. Fortunately, I had seen some his work in person at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (formerly JMOMA) a few years ago. That experience really pushed me to think bigger in terms of material and size of the work I wanted to execute.

Puryear's work speaks to me. I'm not a sculptor but as a printmaker and primarily a woodblock printer, I am drawn to his wood sculptures. Maybe it's my years of art study in Puerto Rico. There, I fell in love with wood and especially, abstract wood sculpture.

What I particularly like about Puryear, besides his technical acumen, is that he was one of the first African American artist I found who was doing large scale geometric abstractions that play with gravity and balance. Even as a sculptor he seems to have an engineer's sensibilities.

To see some of Puryear's work check out this slideshow posted by the New York Times. To give you a sense of the scale watch this 10 minute Youtube video posted and shot by James Kalm. Leave a comment about your favorite piece.


Popular Posts