MacArthur Fellows Program

Martin Puryear

Sculptor | Class of 1989

Minneapolis, Minnesota
48 at time of award
Area of Focus
3-D Visual Art
Published August 1, 1989

About Martin's Work

Martin Puryear is a sculptor whose work reflects his knowledge of the history of modern sculpture and of non-Western traditions of craft with striking beauty.

Puryear’s sculpture combines organic and geometric abstraction, on both intricate and large scales.  His distinct works resist a single reading, only rarely depict familiar shapes, and are open to a wide range of interpretations, narrative associations, and figural references.  Working mainly with wood, Puryear occasionally integrates materials such as rawhide, steel, wire, and tar.  His work has been exhibited at and resides in collections of numerous museums and institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 


His work reflects his extensive travels to Sweden, Japan, Alaska, and throughout Europe and North America.  Puryear served in Sierra Leone in the Peace Corps (1964-66), where he studied traditional, African woodworking methods.  Mainly a full-time artist, he has held various teaching appointments at Fisk University, the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Puryear received a B.A. (1963) from the Catholic University of America and an M.F.A. (1971) from Yale University.  He studied at the Swedish Royal Academy of Art (1966-68).

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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