Martin Puryear creates personal, historical, and often site-specific works in a range of mediums—though he is best known as a sculptor, he has also been a guitar-maker, a carpenter, a painter, and a printmaker. Born in 1941, Puryear studied biology at the Catholic University of America, in his hometown of Washington, D.C., before earning a BFA in painting. He went on to receive an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1971 and to travel the world, visiting such locales as Finland, Japan, and Rome. He incorporated into his practice many of the regional craft traditions he encountered, including woodworking techniques from Sierra Leone and printmaking methods from Stockholm. Puryear’s later works reflect his interest in diverse materials and processes. Though he has been influenced by the art of contemporaries such as Robert Morris and Richard Serra, he has rejected what he sees as the impersonal nature of Minimalism. Instead he makes sculptures in metal, stone, wood, and tar that draw from organic forms and recall historical craft techniques, as well as his own personal story.
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