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"Big Bling"Martin Puryear
This episode of Art21 Exclusive follows the fabrication and installation of Martin Puryear’s monumental public sculpture Big Bling (2016). “There’s a story in the making of objects,” the artist told Art21 in an archival interview. “There’s a narrative in the fabrication of things, which to me is fascinating.”
Because Puryear could not produce the colossal 40-foot sculpture in his studio, he worked with a team of expert manufacturers to realize his vision. At Unalam, a specialty lumber fabricator in Sidney, New York, glulam wood beams were bent to create the tight curves specified by his design. Jon Lash of Digital Atelier explains how materials such as chain link fencing were chosen to create an industrial-looking surface, which contrasts with the golden “bling” at the sculpture’s peak.More information and credits
Director & Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Ian Forster & Susan Sollins. Editor: Morgan Riles. Camera: Ian Forster, Mead Hunt & John Marton. Sound: Jerry Stein. Artwork Courtesy: Martin Puryear & Matthew Marks Gallery. Special Thanks: Digital Atelier, Madison Square Park Conservancy & Unalam.
Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.
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Kicking off our year-long 21st anniversary celebration: a special series of new films, premiering every other Wednesday through March 21.
Martin Puryear’s objects and public installations—in wood, stone, tar, wire, and various metals—are a marriage of minimalist logic with traditional ways of making. Puryear’s evocative, dreamlike explorations in abstract forms retain vestigial elements of utility from everyday objects found in the world. In the massive stone piece, Untitled, Puryear enlisted a local stonemason to help him construct a building-like structure on a ranch in northern California. On one side of the work is an eighteen-foot-high wall—on the other side, an inexplicable stone bulge. A favorite form that occurs in Puryear’s work, the thick-looking stone bulge is surprisingly hollow, coloring the otherwise sturdy shape with qualities of uncertainty, emptiness, and loss.
“There’s a narrative in the fabrication of things, which to me is fascinating.”