Unique Martin Puryear Sculpture Debuts at Storm King Art Center
Martin Puryear is perhaps best known for sculpting in wood. (His Bling Bling, which stood sentry at Madison Square Park in Manhattan in 2017, was 40 feet of laminated plywood.) But that may be about to change: Lookout, his site-specific commission debuting this fall at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, is his first work made of bricks. And there are a lot of them: At 20 feet tall and 16 in diameter, it’s built from some 18,000 red-shale bricks without any formwork. It’s a feat of materiality and construction that took Puryear, Storm King artistic director and chief curator Nora Lawrence, plus a team of architects, structural engineers, kiln builders, and brick and cement technologists nearly a decade to complete, using a Nubian vaulting technique that was developed centuries ago in the Upper Nile delta of Africa, where Puryear’s ancestors may be from. A 9-foot-high archway allows visitors full immersion with Lookout; once inside, they stand on a floor of reclaimed cobblestones and bluestone, chosen by Puryear for both their commonalities and differences with the brick. Light filters in from and views of the grounds are visible through any of the sculpture’s 90 round, different-size openings, which were formed by the insertion of glass fiber–reinforced concrete tubes, the bricks cut to fit around each tube. “The experience has been an adventure and a challenge,” Puryear says, “a series of puzzles to be solved and a collective effort.” Details of this experience as well as that of the making of the artist’s other pieces are on view through December 17 in “Martin Puryear: Process and Scale,” Storm King’s accompanying indoor exhibition, where most of the 22 maquettes are made from Puryear’s old friend, wood.
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