Martin Puryear

Datesborn 1941
BornWashington, District of Columbia, United States

A desire to "make things rather than representations of them" led Martin Puryear from his early training in painting and drawing to sculpture. A video on the making of his sculpture That Profile for the Getty Center vividly details his fascination with the process of making sculpture. After graduating in 1963, he joined the Peace Corps, which sent him to Sierra Leone. There, West African craftsmen educated him in their traditions.

Acting on a parallel interest in Scandinavian design and woodworking, Puryear later moved to Stockholm, where he attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Art. His return to the United States coincided with significant new developments in sculpture, such as Minimalism, which played an important role in his development. Puryear uses craftsmanship to construct forms that often embody contradictions, such as the play of interior and exterior form or geometry and organic irregularity.

In the mid-1970s Puryear set up a studio in Brooklyn, New York. A fire destroyed it in 1977, and he relocated to Chicago the following year. Still exhibiting his work internationally, he has now moved to rural Accord, New York.