Martin Puryear (b. 1941) is widely celebrated for his elegant but playful sculptures and his devotion to craft. His drawings and prints are less well known, but they are equally essential to the artist’s studio practice. Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions is the first exhibition to draw back the curtain on that practice. This exhibition includes more than fifty drawings and prints as well as twelve sculptures—many borrowed from the artist and never displayed before—and offers an unprecedented look into Puryear’s inspirations, methods, and transformative process.
Puryear was born and raised in Washington, DC, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1977 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Several drawings and a maquette in the exhibition relate to his major outdoor sculpture at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington called Bearing Witness. The exhibition also features fourteen works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection, including a portfolio of woodcuts called Cane, and a major wood sculpture called Bower.
Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions traces the artist’s career from his student days to the present. Several drawings are from his formative years with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964–66), where he was inspired by the region’s plants, animals, buildings, and people. Since then, Puryear has returned to many of these themes, experimenting with scale, materials, and varying levels of abstraction. The exhibition examines this evolution, offering a 360-degree view of the creative process of a contemporary master.