May 16, 2016 - April 2, 2017
Madison Square Park Conservancy and renowned American sculptor Martin Puryear today opened Big Bling, a major sculpture to be on view in Madison Square Park through April 2nd, 2017. The temporary outdoor work, the thirty-third public art exhibition mounted by Mad. Sq. Art, the free contemporary art program of Madison Square Park Conservancy, is a multi-tier wood structure wrapped in fine chain-link fence. A gold-leafed shackle is anchored near the top of the structure. At forty feet high, Big Bling achieves colossal scale and elicits a range of readings, stimulating diverse and profound interpretations of its meaning.
The largest temporary outdoor sculpture Puryear has created, Big Bling is part animal form, part abstract sculpture, and part intellectual meditation. The artist’s signature organic vocabulary appears in a graceful, sinewy outline and an amoeboid form in the work’s center. The piece “will command Madison Square Park in New York like a kind of Trojan horse,” writes Hilarie M. Sheets in the October 1, 2015 issue of The New York Times.
Big Bling’s architectural language suggests a building that is accessible by ascension through its levels. Its storeys are obstructed by chain-link fence, a barrier to entry, which covers all visible surfaces of the sculpture. In contrast to the coarse materials employed throughout most of the work, the gold shackle is a shimmering beacon that simultaneously adorns and restrains. (The term “bling” is rooted in urban youth and rap culture of the 1990s and refers to flashy jewelry and accessories.)
Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941), an American sculptor known for his devotion to traditional ways of working, typically creates handmade artworks using methods gleaned from carpentry, boat building, and other trades with spare, exacting stylistic dignity. Wood, his signature material, is employed in his Madison Square Park project to anchor the physicality of the tremendous sculpture.
Madison Square Park’s 6.2-acre site welcomes more than 50,000 daily visitors – a richly diverse audience including local residents, families, public school groups and day camps, office workers, students, artists, and international tourists.
“Mad. Sq. Art is a cultural resource for the general public, exhibiting important commissioned sculpture by acclaimed contemporary artists,” said Keats Myer, Executive Director of Madison Square Park Conservancy. “Our goal is to bring world-class art to the public for free. Madison Square Park is truly a neighborhood park with a far-reaching cultural perspective.”
“We are honored to work with Martin Puryear to realize the largest sculpture in his distinguished body of work,” said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Martin Friedman Senior Curator. “Puryear often balances abstraction with powerful metaphor and Big Bling sits within this trajectory. Public art is a communal activity. Its reach can be significant for communities and neighborhoods, and Puryear has captured this concept with a public sculpture of grand scale and important content.”
Following New York, Big Bling will travel for installation in Philadelphia by the Association for Public Art, opening in May 2017 where it will be on view for six months. This is a first-time collaboration between Madison Square Park Conservancy and the Association for Public Art. Both New York and Philadelphia already have permanent public pieces by Puryear: North Cove Pylons, 1995, at Battery Park City, New York and Pavilion in the Trees, 1993, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.
A celebrated series of sculpture exhibitions by living artists, Mad. Sq. Art was launched by the Madison Square Park Conservancy in 2004 to bring free public art programs to New York. The program has received extensive critical and public attention since its inception and has developed into a world-class cultural institution. Its ambition and scale expands each year alongside an increasingly diverse range of innovative, world-class artists.
Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtags #MadSqArt, #MartinPuryear, and #BigBling.
About Martin Puryear:
Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941) earned his B.A. from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. (1963) and his M.F.A. from Yale University (1971). He served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964-66) and attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Art (1966-68). Puryear’s 2007 retrospective was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. An exhibition of his drawings, Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, will be on view at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum from October 9, 2015 through January 10, 2016. He has received many distinguished awards, including the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1980), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant (1982), and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989). He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1992) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (1994). Puryear lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York.
About Mad. Sq. Art and Madison Square Park Conservancy:
Mad. Sq. Art is the free, contemporary art program of Madison Square Park Conservancy. Since 2004, Mad. Sq. Art has commissioned and presented thirty-two premier installations in Madison Square Park by acclaimed artists ranging in practice and media. Mad. Sq. Art has exhibited works by artists including Bill Beirne, Jim Campbell, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Mark di Suvero, Rachel Feinstein, Teresita Fernández, Bill Fontana, Ernie Gehr, Orly Genger, Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder, Antony Gormley, Paula Hayes, Jene Highstein, Tadashi Kawamata, Mel Kendrick, Sol LeWitt, Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Charles Long, Iván Navarro, Jacco Olivier, Roxy Paine, Rachel Feinstein, Giuseppe Penone, Jaume Plensa, Shannon Plumb, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Alison Saar, Jessica Stockholder, Leo Villareal, and William Wegman.
Madison Square Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization whose mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. The Conservancy is committed to engaging the community through its beautiful gardens, inviting amenities, and world-class programming. Madison Square Park Conservancy is licensed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to manage Madison Square Park and is responsible for raising 98% of the funds necessary to operate the Park, including the brilliant horticulture, park maintenance, sanitation, security, and free cultural programs for Park visitors of all ages.
The Association for Public Art (APA, formerly Fairmount Park Art Association) commissions, preserves, interprets, and promotes public art in Philadelphia. The aPA is the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a “Museum Without Walls” that informs, engages, and inspires diverse audiences. Established in 1872, the aPA integrates public art and urban design through exemplary programs and advocacy efforts that connect people with public art. associationforpublicart.org
Major exhibition support for Big Bling is provided by the Ford Foundation, Matthew Marks Gallery, Association for Public Art, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Henry Luce Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, J.P. Morgan Securities and Unalam of Unadilla, New York.
Major support for Mad. Sq. Art is provided by Toby Devan Lewis, Pentagram Design, Sorgente Group of America, Thornton Tomasetti, Tiffany & Co., The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Anonymous. Substantial support is provided by George W. Ahl III, Irving Harris Foundation, The Sol LeWitt Fund for Artist Work, Danny and Audrey Meyer, Ronald A. Pizzuti, and The Rudin Family. Ace Hotel New York is the Official Hotel Partner of Madison Square Park Conservancy.
Big Bling is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mad. Sq. Art is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Mad. Sq. Art is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
Martin Puryear, Big Bling, 2016. Pressure-treated laminated timbers, plywood, fiberglass, and gold leaf, 40 x 10 x 38 ft. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery. © Martin Puryear. Photo by Yasunori Matsui
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