Press Release

Madison Square Park Conservancy and U.S. Department of State Announce New Details About Martin Puryear's 2019 U.S. Pavilion Commission

Event Date: 
11 May 2019
New York, NY
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Martin Puryear: Liberty/Martin Puryear: Libertà Will Feature New and Recent Sculpture as Well as Monumental Work for the Pavilion’s Forecourt

Madison Square Park Conservancy, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will present Martin Puryear as the representative for the United States at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Puryear is recognized for a fiercely independent visual language of object making that has developed over a half-century and for a sculptural practice that has influenced generations of artists. On view May 11 through November 24, 2019, Martin Puryear: Liberty/Martin Puryear: Libertà will build upon themes and techniques central to Puryear’s oeuvre and marks a major international presentation for the artist, whose work has remained at the forefront of American creativity.

The U.S. Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2019 is commissioned and curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy. The exhibition marks the first time in the history of the Art Biennale that the U.S. Pavilion will be organized by an institution whose visual art program is focused exclusively on public art. Madison Square Park Conservancy and Puryear previously collaborated on the commission of a public art installation of his monumental sculpture Big Bling in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2016.

Martin Puryear: Liberty/Martin Puryear: Libertà meditates on liberty as an essential human theme and continues the artist’s exploration of abstract forms culled from global sources. Featuring new sculpture and a monumental installation that will activate the forecourt of the neoclassical U.S. Pavilion, the exhibition will challenge expectations about how everyday forms found around the world can be elevated into highly resonant objects transforming perception, inspiring individuals, and questioning history.

“For more than five decades, Martin Puryear has created a body of work distinguished by a complex visual vocabulary and deeply-considered meaning. His exacting method and subtle power of nuance has influenced generations of artists in the U.S. and internationally,” said Rapaport. “When Puryear learned that he would represent our country at the Biennale, his response was that he would do so as both an artist and as a citizen. This position is not a discovery for those who know Puryear and his sculpture. His enduring approach has galvanized his work for more than five decades: issues of citizenry, allegiance, democracy, liberty and responsibility have long propelled the artist. Madison Square Park Conservancy is proud to partner with Puryear and bring our expertise and experience as an institution dedicated to public art to the U.S. Pavilion, which provides a critical spotlight on one of the most significant and influential artists working today.”

Puryear’s work summons disparate sources of inspiration to realize a coherent vision that brings together elements across cultures, continents, eras, and perspectives. The exhibition is being designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, who are working closely with Puryear and Rapaport to create a unified experience of the works on view in the outdoor forecourt and within the galleries.

As the dedicated exhibition scholar, Darby English, the Carl Darling Buck Professor at the University of Chicago, will collaborate with Rapaport on text panels and interpretive materials related to the exhibition. He will also author a major essay in the exhibition catalogue. Paula Scher of Pentagram will realize exhibition graphic design. Miko McGinty will design the exhibition catalogue, published by Gregory R. Miller & Co., and will include additional essays by Rapaport, Anne M. Wagner, Class of 1936 Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley and cultural writer Tobi Haslett.

In conjunction with the exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion, the Conservancy and Puryear will realize outreach programs with underserved youth through a collaboration between Studio Institute of Studio in a School Association, Inc., in New York, and Istituto Santa Maria Della Pietà in Venice.

Martin Puryear: Liberty/Martin Puryear: Libertà is made possible by The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. Bloomberg Philanthropies is the lead sponsor of the exhibition. Leadership support is provided by Carmel Barasch Family Collection/Morris A. Hazan Family Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, Agnes Gund, Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Jack Shear, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Matthew Marks Gallery, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in honor of Agnes Gund, and Helen and Charles Schwab. Major support is provided by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Athena Art Finance, Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation, Charina Endowment Fund, Mrs. Donald Fisher, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Glenstone Foundation, Stacey and Rob Goergen, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Michael Kahn, KC Fabrications Inc., Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Amitha Raman and Neil Luthra, Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, Terra Foundation for American Art, Unalam of Unadilla, New York, and VIA Art Fund. Additional support is provided by the Irving Harris Foundation, Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida, Henry Moore Foundation, The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Thornton Tomasetti, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Charles and Helen Wilkes.

For more information about the 2019 U.S. Pavilion, please visit: http://martinpuryearvenice2019.org/

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Martin Puryear, New sculpture for the 2019 U.S. Pavilion, in-process, 2019. Photo credit: Yasunori Matsui

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