Getty Trust Announces Commissioned Sculpture by Martin Puryear
August 3, 1999
LOS ANGELES, CA: The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today that the internationally known American artist Martin Puryear has been commissioned to create a sculpture for the Tram Arrival Plaza at the Getty Center. The still-untitled piece, a tall, openwork structure of stainless steel and bronze, will be installed in late October 1999.
Puryear, who lives and works in rural Accord, New York, is supervising the four-and-one-half-month process of constructing the Getty sculpture at Amaral Custom Fabrications, Inc., in Seekonk, Massachusetts. A marvel of artistry and engineering, the sculpture will be an elegant, airy structure of welded, sandblasted, stainless-steel tubes bound at the joints by stout strands of bronze. It will rise from a broad expanse of travertine pavement on six slender legs to a height of 45 feet, its billowing form suggesting both a delicate fishnet cast against the sky and a human head in profile.
Puryear’s sculpture is the most recent in a series of works by distinguished contemporary artists commissioned by the Getty Trust for key public spaces at the Center. Previous commissions include Robert Irwin’s Central Garden; Ed Ruscha’s PICTURE WITHOUT WORDS, a painting in the lobby of the Harold M. Williams Auditorium; and Alexis Smith’s Taste, a mixed-media installation in the Restaurant at the Getty Center. Puryear was invited in 1996 to propose a sculpture for the Tram Arrival Plaza by Harold M. Williams, then President of the Getty Trust; Stephen Rountree, Executive Vice President; and John Walsh, Getty Museum Director, with the advice of Lisa Lyons, who serves as consultant for contemporary art. Puryear’s proposal was accepted enthusiastically by Williams’ successor Dr. Barry Munitz.
"Martin Puryear’s sculpture is going to speak eloquently about the Getty’s belief in the art of our time and its creators," said Dr. Barry Munitz, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Commenting on the Getty’s commissioning program, John Walsh said, "We don't collect contemporary art in the traditional sense, but we’re finding other ways to make it part of our lives here by sponsoring its creation and showing it to our visitors."
With the installation of the sculpture, the J. Paul Getty Museum will present an exhibition of Puryear’s work titled Martin Puryear: Commission for the Getty Center, organized by guest curator Lisa Lyons, which will provide a context for viewing the plaza sculpture. The exhibition will open on October 26, 1999 and continue through January 2, 2000. Its centerpiece will be the handmade wire model that Puryear created in order to present his proposal. Also on view will be a group of works on paper and two large-scale sculptures that illuminate the genesis of the Getty piece. A series of photographs by the highly regarded New York photographer Lynn Davis will document the fabrication and installation of the completed sculpture.
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1941, Martin Puryear studied at Catholic University, (B.A. 1963), the Swedish Royal Academy (1966-68) and Yale University (M.F.A. 1971). He served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964-65). His work, which was the subject of a touring retrospective exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992, is represented in important public and private collections internationally. He has produced major commissioned sculptures for public sites in several cities including Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. The recipient of many prizes and awards including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989), Puryear lives with his wife and daughter in Accord, New York.
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