• Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà: US Pavilion, 58th International Art Exhibition
    Martin Puryear
    Brooke Kamin Rapaport
    58th International Art Exhibition, Venice
    May 11, 2019 to Nov 24, 2019
    Madison Square Park Conservancy

Martin Puryear, "Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute)," 2019. Southern yellow pine, steel, polyester, canvas, rope, overall 22 ft. 8 in. × 44 ft. × 24 ft. 3 in. Installed in "Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà," May 11–November 19, 2019, La Biennale di Venezia, US Pavilion, Venice, Italy. Collection of the artist. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery and Madison Square Park Conservancy. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com.

Madison Square Park Conservancy serves as the commissioning institution for Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà at the United States Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition in 2019. The Conservancy is responsible for operations and programs in New York’s historic Madison Square Park. Their series of commissioned sculptures by distinguished artists has received extensive critical and public attention for thirty-seven exhibitions since 2004, including Puryear’s monumental Big Bling in 2016. The new installation demonstrates how Puryear, now 77 years old, is at the forefront of American creativity. With a practice that has developed over a half-century and has influenced generations of artists, the artist is recognized for an original and fiercely independent visual language of object-making. His vocabulary is distinctly American, yet he incorporates methods learned internationally from other artists and from tradespeople. Puryear is a maker of objects in a studio at a time when technological innovation has pushed into the work of many artists. He is at the forefront of American creativity, and the Biennale will be a major presentation marking his career apotheosis.

Martin Puryear was born in Washington, DC in 1941, the eldest of seven children. His mother was a teacher and his father a postal employee. He attended segregated public schools until sixth grade. Museums were among the few institutions open to African Americans, and Puryear spent his earliest years exploring the collections of the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He attended Catholic University of America (BA, 1963) Yale (MFA, 1971) and the Swedish Royal Academy of Art (1966–68). He has received distinguished awards including the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1980), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant (1982), and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989). He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2011. He lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Brooke Kamin Rapaport is deputy director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator at Madison Square Park Conservancy. Since joining the Conservancy in 2013, she has overseen its program of commissioned public sculpture exhibitions by contemporary artists including Diana Al-Hadid, Tony Cragg, Teresita Fernández, Josiah McElheny, Iván Navarro, Giuseppe Penone, Martin Puryear, and Arlene Shechet. Through Madison Square Park Conservancy, she established Public Art Consortium, a national initiative of museum, public art program, and sculpture park colleagues.

Madison Square Park Conservancy was founded in 2002. Our mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic, seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. As stewards, we engage the community through our beautiful gardens, inviting amenities, and world-class programming. The Conservancy believes that in an urban setting everyone deserves access to a park that allows for recreation, respite, and reflection.