|Martin Puryear I Residence from October 1992 to March 1993
Martin Puryear was born in 1941 in Washington. He lives and works in New York.
Having pursued his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., and then at Yale University, he embarked on a series of travels in Sierra Leone where he became interested in cabinet making, then going on to study in Sweden to improve his knowledge in this domain. He had his first exhibition there in 1968, then exhibited his work for the first time in the United States in 1972.
In the 1970’s, he won the Rauschenberg Grant (1977), then participated in an exhibition of young American artists at the Guggenheim Museum of New York (1978). He moved to Chicago in 1979 where he received several important commissions before going to spend a year in Japan.
In 1989, he received the Grand Prix of the Sao Paulo Biennial, and in 1993, represented the U.S. in the 45th Venice Bienniale. Puryear has exhibited in some of the most important art institutions in the U.S.: the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (1990); the Art Institute of Chicago (1992); and the Center for Contemporary Art of Cleveland (1994).
In 1999 for the Festival d’ Automne at the Chapelle Saint Louis de la Saltpêtrière he produced a monumental work 96 feet high, relating dynamically to the chapel’s verticality.
A retrospective of his work was organized in 2007 at the MoMA New York, confirming him as one of the most important American sculptors of his generation.
Martin Puryear started his career at the end of the 1960’s, sharing ideas with the post-minimalist movement. Very quickly, he became interested in other cultures which led him to travel to Africa, Asia, in Europe, and across the United States. He studied traditional materials and construction techniques used in these cultures. He would then integrate these into his work, trying to create a connection among these cultures, and favoring one material in particular: wood.
The roots of Puryear’s sculptures are found in different disciplines: natural history, ornithology, art, architecture, and the history of technology. These are the inspirations that inform his vocabulary of forms and materials. Therefore, his sculptures resonate with historical and cultural as well as psychological references.