Press Release

Martin Puryear to Represent United States at 58th Venice Biennale in 2019

New York, NY
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U.S. Pavilion Presented by Madison Square Park Conservancy and Commissioned by Brooke Kamin Rapaport

Madison Square Park Conservancy, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, announced today that Martin Puryear will represent the United States at La Biennale di Venezia 58th International Art Exhibition. 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, the Biennale will mark a major international presentation for the artist, whose work has remained at the forefront of American creativity and who will create new site-specific pieces for the U.S. Pavilion.

The 2019 U.S. Pavilion 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 Biennale that the U.S. Pavilion will be organized by an institution whose visual arts 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 confronts contemporary issues as a maker of objects in the studio. For more than five decades, 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. “Since our first project in 2004, Madison Square Park Conservancy has commissioned over 30 contemporary art installations, fostering dynamic engagement with the public to inspire, provoke, and captivate through resonant examples of contemporary art within one of the most cherished green spaces in New York City.  We are proud to realize installations that are accessible and open to the broadest possible audience. The expertise and experience we have as an institution dedicated to public art will enhance next year’s presentation at the U.S. Pavilion, which provides a critical spotlight on one of the most significant and influential artists working today.”

Puryear will create an entirely new body of work for the U.S. Pavilion, including new sculpture and a site-specific outdoor installation for the Pavilion’s forecourt. Puryear’s work summons disparate sources of inspiration to realize a coherent vision that culls and clarifies across cultures, continents, eras, and perspectives. In conjunction with the presentation 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.

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. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will serve as exhibition designers, working with Puryear and Rapaport on the layout of objects in the interior galleries and outdoor forecourt. Paula Scher of Pentagram, will realize exhibition and catalogue graphic design. The catalogue will be published by Gregory R. Miller & Co., and Anne M. Wagner, Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, will write a catalogue essay.

The 2019 U.S. Pavilion: Martin Puryear is made possible by The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, The Ford Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, Agnes Gund, and Matthew Marks Gallery. Additional support is provided by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Charina Endowment Fund.

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Martin Puryear, Big Bling, 2016 © Martin Puryear, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery Photo: Hunter Canning