Monday, October 13, 2008

Martin Puryear at the National Gallery in DC

While I was in Washington, D.C., two months ago, serving on the NEA Museum Grants Panel for 2008, I saw the most beautiful and visually stimulating sculpture show I've seen in years, maybe ever: Martin Puryear at the National Gallery.

Today, I ran across the gallery brochure, which reminded me to tell you about the show, in hopes that you can catch it at its last stop, San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art , where the exhibition opens Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, and continues until Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.

The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Click to see a significant selection of pieces from the show in MOMA 's online exhibition.

So many sculptors currently use found objects without mastering the transformative process that makes these objects into art. Both technical skill and intimate connection to the sculptural materials seem in short supply. I'm tired of seeing old rags wrapped around a rusted bed frame presented as "art." In addition, we seldom are offered incite into the nature of the forms themselves, how a sculptor can view a particular item, then reimagine it in an incredibly powerful and more universal way.

Martin Puryear does that -- and more. He has superb technical and transformational skills. But he's also an internationalist, combining images from disparate cultures so that they emerge as cohesive visual staements, the work of someone with a profound and inspiring understanding of his medium.

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