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"Big Bling"Martin Puryear

June 10, 2016

Martin Puryear addresses the interconnected narratives around the fabrication and installation of his works, as evidenced by his monumental public sculpture Big Bling (2016). “There’s a story in the making of objects,” said the artist in an archival interview with Art21. “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

Big Bling was on view in Madison Square Park in New York City through January 2017 and was later presented in Philadelphia through November 2017 by the Association for Public Art.


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.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Martin Puryear

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.”

Martin Puryear

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