PRINT October 1979

Martin Puryear’s Sculpture

WHILE ASPECTS OF MARTIN PURYEAR’S sculpture seem traditional, even conservative, his work is part of important developments in contemporary art. He maintains the stance of both an artisan and a carver who pares down his material to a formal core, but the work he produces demands to be confronted outside of conventional sculptural terms. A no-nonsense craftsman’s esthetic is applied to the creation of ambiguous, multivalent objects that resist analytic categorization. His art is an experience of an extraordinary refinement bordering on a kind of mannerism, yet it generates a confluence of meanings and effects coinciding with, and going beyond, its own lyricism and stylishness.

There is no consistent look to Puryear’s work, no obvious route of development; no formal ideas repeatedly appear. In the last two years he has produced, for example, a large geometrical piece, Equivalents, 1979, the

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