• Martin Puryear, Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996, ash and maple, 36' x 22 3/4“ (narrowing to 1 1/4” at top) x 3". Photo: David Wharton.

    Martin Puryear

    Modern Art Museum | Fort Worth
    3200 Darnell Street
    February 24–May 18, 2008

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    November 4, 2007–January 14, 2008

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    November 1, 2008–January 25, 2009

    National Gallery of Art
    Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
    June 22–September 28, 2008

    Curated by John Elderfield

    Martin Puryear’s sculpture has long been celebrated for its ability to hover between Shaker-like minimalism and Surrealism. Trained in carpentry, Puryear is acutely sensitive to materials, particularly wood, crafting absurdist biomorphic constructions that are often suavely linear but at times dense and compact. Some hang breathlessly in space, as though holding a pose, even as they recline on the floor like odalisques. This retrospective of some forty-five sculptures, spanning 1977 to the present, may show that Puryear’s peculiarly warm and homey oeuvre conjures afresh the uncanniness of the organic, while the objects’ openness evokes the expansiveness of American space.

  • Morris Louis, Theta, 1961, acrylic resin on canvas, 8' 6" x 14'.

    “Color as Field: American Painting, 1950–75”

    Denver Art Museum
    100 West 14th Avenue Pkwy
    November 9, 2007–February 3, 2008

    Frist Art Museum
    919 Broadway
    June 20–September 21, 2008

    Smithsonian American Art Museum
    8th and F Streets NW
    February 29–March 26, 2008

    Let’s get one thing clear: Color Field painting ain’t coming back. We can no longer even begin to imagine an art history in which the likes of Jack Bush or Friedel Dzubas play major roles. Yet despite the indifference or hostility of many critics, figures like Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Larry Poons will not go away. Their paintings are just too good. What’s needed is a reassessment of the most engaging artists connected with the movement, according to revised criteria. The title of this survey (organized by the American Federation of Arts) suggests it probably won’t provide that reevaluation—not surprising, since curator Karen Wilkin is one of the Old Believers. But keep your eyes open and a few of the forty paintings might make a believer of you too.