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Martin Puryear to Represent the United States at 2019 Venice Biennale

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Madison Square Park Conservancy announced today that Martin Puryear has been chosen to represent the United States at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The seventy-seven-year-old artist’s body of work spans more than three decades and often incorporates wood, stone, and metal in massively scaled but subtle works that address history, identity, and freedom. He will create site-specific pieces for the pavilion that will be exhibited from May 11 to November 24, 2019.

“Martin is one of the most important artists working today,” said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the deputy director and senior curator of the Madison Square Park Conservancy and the commissioner and curator of the display in the US pavilion. “His work confronts contemporary issues and he has by now influenced generations of artists in our country and internationally.” The participation of the Madison Square Park Conservancy marks the first time a US pavilion will be staged by an insitution solely focused on public art. Last year’s representative was abstract painter Mark Bradford. 

Darby English, an art history professor at the University of Chicago, will serve as the pavilion’s exhibition scholar, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will be the exhibition’s designers.

Puryear’s sundry museum exhibitions include a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2007, as well as shows at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has also been exhibited at the 1992 edition of Documenta, and he represented the United States at the 1989 São Paulo Bienal, where he was bestowed with the festival’s Grand Prize. His achievements include the National Medal of Arts in 2011, the Gold Medal in Sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007, and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1989.