At 77, American sculptor
has achieved most major milestones to which a contemporary artist can aspire. He’s been in the Whitney Biennial (three times); in 2007, he had a major traveling retrospective that began at the Museum of Modern Art
, which also owns
more than two dozen of his works. In 2015, he created Big Bling
, a major outdoor commission for Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. Earlier this year, a new monumental work of his was permanently installed
at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. And last month—rather belatedly
—the U.S. State Department revealed
that Puryear will represent the U.S. at next year’s Venice Biennale.
The only mark of success Puryear hasn’t achieved, it seems, is a healthy presence on the secondary market.
“The Puryear market overall has not been a runaway market,” said Barrett White, the executive deputy chairman and head of post-war and contemporary art for the Americas at Christie’s. “He’s not a market artist—he’s much more of an artist’s artist and an institutional artist, somebody who makes these incredibly poetic, incredibly beautiful objects that are so intricate in how they’re made, that are truly handcrafted, and are really his own unique vision of what he wants to put out into the world.”