The Easel

4th June 2019

Liberty, democracy and the art of Martin Puryear

Puryear’s work has been called craftsmanly. That’s not craftsmanship in a contemporary sense but something from a past era when wood was an industrial material. His show in Venice – where he represents the USA – is in his characteristic style, abstract pieces that are modern but somehow carry historic overtones. “One of the most subtle and powerful shows of the Biennale.”

Brancusi and America

Brancusi felt a debt to America, its openness to the new. In return he has been “the fountainhead” of American sculpture. Listing his undoubtedly numerous innovations tends to obscure where his true greatness lay. An earlier critic is more specific – “his rapturous feeling for surfaces … [and endowing] his forms with something of the clarity and finality of law”.