fbpx Martin Puryear - Voorlinden

Martin Puryear

20 January - 27 May 2018

From 20 January until 27 May 2018, museum Voorlinden features a solo exhibition of work by the American sculptor Martin Puryear (1941). Voorlinden presents the first museum show of this artist in Europe, with a large overview of his work from the past decades.


Martin Puryear (1941) is a sculptor pur sang. The artist spends months, even years, working on a single sculpture. Wood is the material that lies at the base of his work. Martin Puryear has learned traditional methods of woodworking from craftspeople all across the globe. The elegant shapes, perfect finish and texture of every piece convey his dedication and love of the material itself.


The development of Martin Puryear’s pieces from the 1970s until now follows a circular path in which old ideas are continuously merged with new insights. The result is a coherent oeuvre, yet one in which each sculpture retains its full autonomy. The subtle, sensory and tactile objects have an immediate impact on the viewer. Martin Puryear’s sculptures excite the imagination and ask you to slow down for a moment.

Martin Puryear’s experiences and broad interests in ornithology, literature, philosophy, biology and history are the reservoir from which he draws his inspiration. His work is abounding with references to natural history, cultural phenomena and historical events. Yet these references always remain implicit and suggestive.

‘Martin Puryear reminds me of a Geppetto-figure, carefully conjuring his sculptures out of the wood and then tinkering with them endlessly until he has found exactly the right form. He is like a father who pours love and time into his works of art, shaping them in such a way that they seem to go on growing even after they are ‘finished’.’ – director Suzanne Swarts


The Martin Puryear exhibition will constitute part two of the American Season: a period in which four diverse American artists will be on consecutive display in the museum. Following the current duo exhibition of Shio Kusaka and Jonas Wood, Voorlinden will continue the series with painter Wayne Thiebaud (1920) in the summer of 2018.

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Martin Puryear

Martin Puryear (1941) lives and works in upstate New York.

If I were forced to describe my work, I’d say I’m interested in making sculpture that tries to describe itself to the world, work that acknowledges its maker and that offers an experience that’s probably more tactile and sensate than strictly cerebral.’

Martin Puryear