Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà at United States Pavilion, Giardini della Biennale, Venice, May 11 – November 24, 2019

“The United States Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, presents new and recent work by Martin Puryear, an artist recognized for a fiercely independent sculptural language ascending from his long-term scrutiny of national and international sources and for an exacting practice that foregrounds technique, materiality, and meaning in sculpture. Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà meditates on a theme that has remained central to Puryear’s work over the course of his more-than-fifty-year career. Featuring recent sculptures and new works, including a monumental installation in the Pavilion’s forecourt, the exhibition explores ongoing issues related to liberty and its inherent complexities in American and global societies.” — Madison Square Park Conservancy 

 “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 nuance have influenced generations of artists in the U.S. and internationally,” said Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator at Madison Square Park Conservancy. “When Puryear learned that he would represent our country at the Venice Biennale, his response was that he would do so both as 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 throughout his prolific career: issues of democracy, identity, and liberty have long propelled him. 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.”

Installation view Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, La Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 2019. Left: Big Phrygian (2010-14), Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com

Installation view Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, La Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 2019. Front: New Voortrekker, 2018. Back: Hibernian Testosterone, 2018. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com

Installation view Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, La Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 2019. Front: Detail of A Column for Sally Hemings, 2019. Back: Cloister-Redoubt or Cloistered Doubt?, 2019. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com

Installation view Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, La Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 2019. Left: Tabernacle, 2019. Right: Aso Oke, 2019. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com

Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute), 2019. Southern yellow pine, steel, polyester, canvas, rope. Two parts, (a) 22 ft. 8 in. × 44 ft. × 1 ft., (b) 21 ft. × 7 ft. 9 in. × 23 ft. 3 in., overall 22 ft. 8 in. × 44 ft. × 24 ft. 3 in. Photo: Joshua White – JWPictures.com

Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà was organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York; commissioned and curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator at the Conservancy; and presented by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. Mission to Italy,

Exhibition design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Julia Friedman, Senior Curatorial Manager, and Tom Reidy, Senior Project Manager, both of Madison Square Park Conservancy, have contributed to all aspects of exhibition organization and installation. 

Images courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy.