Martin Puryear.MARTIN PURYEAR by Harry J. Weil
Museum of Modern Art, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of NY November 4, 2007 * January 14, 2008
On the quiet Wednesday afternoon when I first visited Martin Puryear's MoMA retrospective, there was a certain magic in the air. The spillover spill·o·ver
1. The act or an instance of spilling over.
2. An amount or quantity spilled over.
3. A side effect arising from or as if from an unpredicted source: of towering large works in the second-floor atrium, all essentially weightless, was especially intriguing. Instead of encountering Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk (196369), which was temporarily moved to storage, one found a fitting--if warped--replacement in Puryear's Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996). Hovering slightly above the floor, this rickety rick·et·y
adj. rick·et·i·er, rick·et·i·est
1. Likely to break or fall apart; shaky.
2. Feeble with age; infirm.
3. Of, having, or resembling rickets. , dramatically foreshortened ladder makes its way almost to the ceiling, as if heaven-bent. Yet despite its culturally nuanced title, the African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. artist doesn't seem immediately concerned with racial issues, proving that what pervades his oeuvre is essentially the mastery of illusion. Desire (1981) likewise dominated the space, its colossally sized wheel daring to think that bigger is indeed better--and successively pulling it off. And even if the loose chronology on the sixth floor often failed to justify all the hoopla hoop·la
a. Boisterous, jovial commotion or excitement.
b. Extravagant publicity: The new sedan was introduced to the public with much hoopla.
2. this much-anticipated show has attracted, an aura of excitement definitely extended to all of the 47 sculptures in this 30-odd-year survey.
On the crowded Sunday afternoon when I visited the show for a second time, however, the earlier magic had changed into wearying monotony. Perhaps the culprit is MoMA's new building, which is not really conducive to large crowds--the transition zones between galleries and floors are too narrow and not easily navigable NAVIGABLE. Capable of being navigated.
2. In law, the term navigable is applied to the sea, to arms of the sea, and to rivers in which the tide flows and reflows. 5 Taunt. R. 705; S. C. Eng. Com. Law Rep. 240; 5 Pick. R. 199; Ang. Tide Wat. 62; 1 Bouv. Inst. n. . Furthermore, due to large crowds on the day in question, the works in the atrium were roped off. Even when seen in close proximity, Ladder loses its appeal among the myriad camera flashes and pointing fingers. But regardless of these issues of crowd control, museum art should be able to function at both very near and far distances. The concurrent MoMA show of Seurat's drawings proved that this is indeed possible, their murky luminosity luminosity, in astronomy, the rate at which energy of all types is radiated by an object in all directions. A star's luminosity depends on its size and its temperature, varying as the square of the radius and the fourth power of the absolute surface temperature. creating an all-encompassing sense of intimacy. Here, however, not even the bountiful sixth-floor space can pay justice to Puryear's huge sculptures. They seemed overcrowded o·ver·crowd
v. o·ver·crowd·ed, o·ver·crowd·ing, o·ver·crowds
To cause to be excessively crowded: a system of consolidation that only overcrowded the classrooms. and a bit overdone o·ver·done
Past participle of overdo.
Adj. 1. overdone - represented as greater than is true or reasonable; "an exaggerated opinion of oneself"
exaggerated, overstated (something that MoMA is continually guilty of), rather like an IKEA IKEA Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (Swedish home furnishings retailer founder's initials and location) sample sale.
Above all else, Puryear is clearly a marketable draw card for MoMA. His work appeals to the majority of audiences, including critics, and his plastic skills are undeniable--without mentioning that it reproduces very well in catalogues and art magazines. The museum's last handful of shows has attempted much the same thing, basically reintroducing such established drawcards as Richard Serra and Elizabeth Murray to boost attendance. The unfortunate result of this otherwise quite understandable gesture is that these offerings have generally been seen too many times before. While Puryear, Serra, and Murray are exceptionally fine artists, their re-airing has not as yet led to any substantial reevaluations. And despite their best efforts to the contrary, MoMA seems to have lost its contemporary edge. Puryear's show is enjoyable, but mediocre--the very antithesis (and perverse fulfillment) of NY Times critic Roberta Smith's boastful proclamation that, "it is Mr. Puryear's turn to weave his finely nuanced yet insistent spell." In a different space, with different curators and a better layout, this exhibition could have been outstanding. The specific needs of Puryear's work deserve better than what MoMA consistently fails to accommodate.
In all fairness, Puryear's show still rewards close attention. There are some beautiful moments here, especially the six mixed-wood rings from the early 1980s hanging in a row along the longest wall, like Miesian exercises in profound simplicity. While still considered by many to be a post-minimalist, Puryear might be more productively understood as an early-century modernist, whose work encompasses diverse media sensibilities and the will to bring order out of chaos. For example, there are a number of smaller, Ladder-like pieces that challenge conventions of mass and volume. An untitled work from 1997, a heavy-looking, black-painted hollow wooden shell, typifies Puryear's experimentation over the previous decade with interior/exterior spaces. Scattered in the final room were the artist's most recent sculptures, where the simplicity of materials has now given way to complex, more narrative forms. After nearly thirty years as an established sculptor, Puryear seems to have arrived at a new facility with his chosen medium, creating such wonders as C.F.A.O. (2006-07)--an acronym for the late-nineteenth-century French trading company Compagnie Francaise de l'Afrique Occidentale. Made of painted and unpainted pine and a found wheelbarrow, C.F.A.O. comprises a latticework of interlocking interlocking /in·ter·lock·ing/ (-lok´ing) closely joined, as by hooks or dovetails; locking into one another.
interlocking Obstetrics A rare complication of vaginal delivery of twins; the 1st wooden struts molded around an inverted inverted
reverse in position, direction or order.
inverted L block
a pattern of local filtration anesthesia commonly used in laparotomy in the ox. West African ceremonial mask, gracefully and tactfully tact·ful
Possessing or exhibiting tact; considerate and discreet: a tactful person; a tactful remark.
tact addressing larger themes of colonization while remaining committed to the integrity of his materials. As the artist has expressly said, "I value the referential quality of art, the fact that a work can allude to things or states of being without in any way representing them."