Rustic Wood Aesthetic: Sculptures by Martin Puryear

A large bulbous, smooth wooden sculptureIn Sheep's Clothing, pine

Martin Puryear is an American sculptor who works primarily in wood. His artistic career currently spans over thirty years, and he is known as one of the foremost artists associated with the post-minimalist movement.


A large bulbous wood sculpture painted blackUntitled, painted red cedar and pine

Puryear places a lot of importance on his process, and the hand of the artist plays a big role in his work. His sculptures often appear as large, bulbous forms, either composed of solid wood, or wood strips in various densities. Some are like tightly knitted snail-shells, inviting tactile experience, while others echo the skeletal, unfinished forms of wood building frames. There is something very architectural about Puryear’s works, which I enjoy. I can imagine one of these as a child’s play house, or a tree-house – the rustic wood aesthetic would work very well in such an application.


Some of Puryear’s other sculptures echo tools, vehicles and furniture from a recent past, and some seem to be simply well-organized collections (and showcases) of wood as a material, combining many unprocessed branches into objects.


A sculpture made of wood that looks like the framework of a large vesselVessel, pine, mesh and tar

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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