New York

Martin Puryear, Dumb Luck, 1990, wire mesh, tar, and wood, 64 x 94 x 36".

Martin Puryear, Dumb Luck, 1990, wire mesh, tar, and wood, 64 x 94 x 36".

Martin Puryear

Museum of Modern Art, New York and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

SCULPTURE HAS LONG PLAYED second fiddle to painting at MoMA (case in point: the Department of Painting and Sculpture), perhaps a consequence of the same giddy moment that gave us high modernism and the urban temple built to exhibit its wall-bound artifacts. This is surely changing, with MoMA’s institutional priorities effecting architectural exigencies: After the museum’s recent renovation, bigger rooms engineered expressly (or at least firstly) for Richard Serra mean bigger rooms left behind for other sculptors. Yet these subsequent installations—in which Martin Puryear’s retrospective, organized by John Elderfield, is sadly included—now suffer the unseemly fate of comparison to the “man of steel,” with the vast new galleries often overwhelming and estranging their objects.

In fact, upon encountering Puryear’s show at its second venue, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, I

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