Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Martin Puryear at the National Gallery

Got to see the huge retrospective of sculptures by Martin Puryear while I visited my son in D.C.

I felt the strongest of his pieces are in the period of 1975 to 1989, when each work was sort of human scale. He's gotten into fairly large pieces of late and I found them strangely lacking character. They seemed slick and, well, bombastic. Why does a sculptor have to make humongous pieces? You can understand the gigantic works of Richard Serra, Claes Oldenberg, and that guy who numbers all of his works. But the gigantic does not belong in the same sentence as Puryear.

I love his materials. Walking around the pieces, I was just dying to touch them, but of course if we did this, they'd get frayed and greasy in a hurry. Beautiful arcs of pine, blocks of oak, even a wicker piece that was out of this world. They are tactile to the max and just my size. A very friendly body of work.