Martin Puryear: Big Bling
Big Bling, the largest temporary outdoor sculpture that the revered sculptor Martin Puryear has constructed, confirms how human experience is key to understanding his work. At forty-feet high, Big Bling achieves colossal scale and elicits a range of profound interpretations through politics, identity, and democracy. Big Bling’s architectural language suggests a structure that is accessible by ascension through its levels. Yet its storeys are obstructed by chain-link fence, a barrier to entry. Puryear wrote:
“I see you New York. I see how you grow and compartmentalize and stratify. I see how you beckon and promise (and also how you exclude).
And crowning it all like a beacon, I see your wealth, your gilded shackle, the golden ring (the bling), the prize, our pride, maybe even our success.”
The monumental work is part animal form, part abstract sculpture, and part intellectual meditation. His signature organic vocabulary appears in a graceful, sinewy outline and an amoeboid form in the work’s center. Big Bling is industrially produced with laminated plywood wrapped in fine chain-link fence. A gold-leafed shackle is anchored near the top. Puryear, 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.