December 20, 2010

An Innocent Sense of Self

OLD MOLE, 1985
Red cedar, 61 x 61, 32 in.
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Excerpt from Martin Puryear by Neal Benezra, first published 1991 by The Art Institute of Chicago and Thames and Hudson:

"Puryear understands the disillusion that has bred a current wave of critical attitudes toward modern art and contemporary culture, yet he does not consider an often nostalgic reinterpretation of past styles, nor a cynical analysis of contemporary cultural forms, to be viable approaches to making art. Although Puryear is himself critical of much in contemporary society, he believes that this only underscores the need for an art that is original and undogmatic. That is, while Puryear recognizes the postmodernist loss of faith, this only enlarges his faith in himself and his art as a way of transcending traditions of all sorts. Rather than pessimism, Puryear exudes an enthusiasm for life, experience, and the next sculpture in the studio. In conversation, he likens his belief in art to that of Jof, the simple juggler in the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal. While the knight struggles valiantly to confound death and the devil in a futile game of chess, Jof remains possessed of thoughts and visions, of an innocent sense of self, and of a future beyond."   

Martin Puryear in his studio, Chicago, 1987

Red cedar and aluminum paint
97 x 58 x 46 in.
Dallas Museum of Art

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