Archive - December 2, 2022

Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone) | VESSEL

Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone) | VESSEL

  Martin Puryear, Vessel, 1997-2002 Eastern white pine, mesh, tar Smithsonian American Art Museum   One of the most important American sculptors working today, Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) is known for his handmade constructions, primarily in wood. After studying painting at Catholic University in Washington, DC, he traveled extensively — teaching in Sierra Leone with the Peace Corps, studying printmaking in Stockholm from 1966 to 1968, and visiting Japan through a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982 – experiences that have shaped the artist’s practice. He creates abstract forms that are evocative and familiar, yet elude singular interpretations. Motifs like human heads, ladders, and vessels take on symbolic resonance, and function as meditations on powerful universal concepts such as freedom, shelter, sanctuary, migration, mobility, and equality.   In Vessel, a form lies facedown on the ground, the neck and crown rising up in opposite directions, like the bow and stern of a ship. Contained within this openwork structure . . .

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