Taking over the U.S. Pavilion for this 58th Venice Biennale is “Martin Puryear: Liberty/ Martin Puryear: Libertà.” The project is commissioned and curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the deputy director and Martin Friedman senior curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York.
On view will be new sculpture and a monumental installation in the forecourt of the pavilion. Whitewaller asked Kamin Rapaport about Puryear’s plans.
WHITEWALLER: You previously worked with Martin Puryear, for the 2016 public work in Madison Square Park, Big Bling. Can you tell us about that experience of working together?
BROOKE KAMIN RAPAPORT: In the studio, Martin Puryear makes sculpture that endures. Building Big Bling, a short-lived work shown outdoors at a teeming public site that 60,000 people traverse daily, would invigorate the artist. Public art is viewed in the context of full democracy: no admission fees, complete accessibility, open to all. Puryear’s penchant was to describe Big Bling as a “construction,” but to limit any further interpretation, inviting viewers to pursue their impetus and their imagination to think hard about a sculpture that sat so gracefully on Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn, and so overpoweringly demanded understanding.
WW: What makes Martin Puryear a fitting representation of the U.S. as an artist at this moment in time?
BKR: Martin Puryear is one of the most important artists working today. His sculpture confronts historic and contemporary issues and ideas. For more than five decades, Martin has created a body of work distinguished by a complex visual vocabulary and deeply considered meaning. His sculpture and works on paper have influenced generations of artists in the U.S. and internationally.
WW: This is the first time the U.S. Pavilion will be curated by an organization devoted to public art. How do you think that will make this year’s presentation unique?