Martin Puryear: “Big Bling” | Video by Art21

 

RISING AMONG THE TREES in Madison Square Park, “Big Bling” is a monument to Martin Puryear‘s practice. Standing 40-feet high, it is the largest temporary outdoor sculpture the artist has created.

Part animal, part abstract form, from afar the voluminous sculpture looks heavy, but upon closer inspection it is light and transparent. Composed of a bent plywood foundation constructed with the help of glue, clamps, and high frequency microwaves, the sculpture is sheathed in mesh—a metal chain link fencing that acts as a skin covering the wood base. The work is anchored by a gold-leaf shackle at the top or head of the structure.

“I’ve had to open myself up both to working with assistants, but also to working with people outside of the studio who I have to engage to do the larger pieces,” says Puryear in the Art21 video above.

“I don’t have the facilities to make a 30 or 40 or 50-foot-high work in my studio, nor to i have the technical facilities to work certain materials. That’s putting yourself in the hands of other people and trusting their skill and willingness to do what you want.”

“I’ve had to open myself up both to working with assistants, but also to working with people outside of the studio who I have to engage to do the larger pieces.” — Martin Puryear, Art21

Born in Washington, D.C., Puryear is based in Hudson Valley, N.Y. Over the past half century, he has established a unique sculptural practice utilizing traditional craft, carpentry, and boat building skills to create modernist abstract works that are inspired by nature and draw on a range of cultures, histories and motifs. His innovative works are defined by experimentation with scale, form and materials, including wood, stone, tar, bronze, and wire.

“Big Bling” coincides with “Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions,” a survey of the artist’s works on paper, studies for his sculptures, currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (May 27–Sept. 5, 2016).

Puryear appreciates the dichotomy between the two appearances of “Big Bling.” He says: “My work has a potential for evolution and change and open-endedness, which to me feels very resonant with what it feels like to live a life.” CT

 

“Big Bling” debuted May 16, 2016, and is on view in New York through April 2, 2017. Next, it travels to Philadelphia where, beginning in May 2017, it will be installed for six months by the Association for Public Art.

 

BOOKSHELF
Featuring contributions by Mark Pascale, a professor at the School of Art Institute Chicago, and Ruth Fine, a former curator at the National Gallery of Art where she curated an exhibition of Puryear’s work in 2008, the catalog “Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions” was published to coincide with the exhibition currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 

rsz_img_8037_martin_puryear_-_big_bling__photo_by_victoria_l_valenitne
Installation view of MARTIN PURYEAR, “Big Bling,” at Madison Square Park in New York. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine

 

rsz_img_8038_martin_puryear_-_big_bling_2_photo_by_victoria_l_valenitne
Installation view of MARTIN PURYEAR, “Big Bling,” 2016 (pressure-treated laminated timbers, plywood, fiberglass, gold leaf, chain link fencing). | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine

 

rsz_img_8043_martin_puryear_-_big_bling_3_photo_by_victoria_l_valenitne
Detail of MARTIN PURYEAR, “Big Bling.” | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine

 

rsz_img_8045_martin_puryear_-_big_bling_4_photo_by_victoria_l_valenitne
Installation view of MARTIN PURYEAR, “Big Bling,” which stands 40 feet high, and measures 38 feet across and 10 feet deep. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine