At A Glance
Presented by the Association for Public Art (aPA) in collaboration with Madison Square Park Conservancy
Sculpture creates a form that is both animal-like and abstract with an amoeboid shape in the center
Puryear is known for combining modernist abstraction with the tradition of crafts and woodworking
Made of materials similar to those found in Puryear’s Pavilion in the Trees in Philadelphia
The Association for Public Art (aPA), working with New York’s Madison Square Park Conservancy in a first-time collaboration, has brought internationally acclaimed artist Martin Puryear’s Big Bling to Philadelphia as a temporary installation. The sculpture was installed along Kelly Drive between Fountain Green Drive and the Connecting Railway and Girard Avenue Bridges in May 2017, and will remain on view through November 2017.
“I tend not to tell people what they’re looking at when they’re in the presence of my work,” says Puryear. “I trust people’s eyes. I trust their imagination.”
Rising forty feet high and eliciting many interpretations, Big Bling is Puryear’s largest temporary outdoor sculpture to date. The colossal multi-tiered wood structure is wrapped in chain-link fence and anchored with a gold-leafed shackle near the top. Layers of laminated timbers and plywood stack together to create a form that is both animal-like and abstract with an amoeboid shape in the center. “I tend not to tell people what they’re looking at when they’re in the presence of my work,” says Puryear. “I trust people’s eyes. I trust their imagination.”
On Kelly Drive, the sculpture is located near Daniel Chester French and Edward C. Potter’s General Ulysses S. Grant, Frederic Remington’s Cowboy, and Carl Milles’ Playing Angels, which were installed by aPA in 1898, 1908, and 1972, respectively.
Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941) is an American artist known for creating sculpture that combines modernist abstraction with the traditions of crafts and woodworking. In the 1960s, he volunteered with the Peace Corps in West Africa, where he schooled himself in the region’s indigenous crafts, and his interest in Scandinavian design led him to study at the Royal Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.
Philadelphia is home to one of Puryear’s early public works, Pavilion in the Trees. Pavilion was conceived in 1981 as part of the Form and Function program of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) and installed at the Horticulture Center in 1993. Inspired by the universal longing for a tree house, Pavilion consists of an open structure that uses materials similarly found in Big Bling. The work has become a favorite destination to relax and contemplate nature from a bird’s-eye view.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art will display a recently acquired intaglio print by Martin Puryear, Untitled (State 1), published by Universal Limited Art Editions, Inc. The print will be displayed in Gallery 124 of the Museum from Tuesday, June 27, through Sunday, October 15. Additionally, in conjunction with aPA, The Print Center will exhibit Martin Puryear Prints: 1962 – 2016, guest curated by Ruth Fine. “The forms explored in Puryear’s sculpture, often rooted in nature, are equally powerful in his prints,” says Ruth Fine. The exhibition will be on view September 8 – November 18, 2017. An opening reception will be held at The Print Center on Thursday, September 7, 2017. More information at printcenter.org.
Share your photos on Twitter and Instagram using #BigBlingPhilly!
Thank you to all who joined us to welcome artist Martin Puryear and Big Bling to Philadelphia! For those who weren’t able to attend the public celebration, the sculpture will remain on view through November 2017.
Celebrate Martin Puryear’s Big Bling in Philadelphia
The Association for Public Art invites you to our 145th Annual Meeting!
Thursday, June 8, 2017
4:30pm – 7:00pm
Remarks at 5:30pm
Rain or shine
Join us for this FREE event to celebrate the arrival of Big Bling by Martin Puryear in its new temporary location in Philadelphia. The colossal outdoor sculpture will be installed along Kelly Drive (see map) through November 2017. During the event, Puryear will be awarded aPA’s Medal of Honor, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of art through notable public service.
• Transport shuttles, bike racks, and limited parking available – RSVP for more information
• Light refreshments will be served
• Share your photos on Twitter and Instagram: #BigBlingPhilly @assocpublicart
Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941) earned his B.A. from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. (1963) and his M.F.A. from Yale University (1971). He served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964-66) and attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Art (1966-68). Puryear’s 2007 retrospective was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has received many distinguished awards, including the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1980), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant (1982), and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1992) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (1994). Puryear lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York.
In Philadelphia, Big Bling is supported by aPA members and our Board of Trustees; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Philadelphia Cultural Fund; Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson; and FS Investments. In-kind support provided by Expert Events and Shake Shack.
Special thanks to the Association for Public Art Board of Trustees, staff, and members; Martin Puryear, Jeanne Englert, and his Studio; Matthew Marks Gallery; Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Keats Myer, Tom Reidy, and Julia Friedman, Madison Square Park Conservancy; Aparna Palentino, Barry Bessler, and Gerald McFeely, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation; Creative Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Print Center; Deidra McClintock, Diversified Lighting Associates; Mark Gisi, David Wolf, John Feuerstein, and Brian Huddleston, Eastern Standard; Sharon Erwin; Sharon McCullough, Expert Events; Doug Gordon; Aaron Igler and Matthew Suib, Greenhouse Media; Robert Glick, Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners; Bill Montesi and Angelo Mariano, Mariano Brothers Specialty Moving; Thomas Friese, Linda Douthwaite, and Matthew Kensil, Pennoni; Tatti Art Conservation; Thornton Tomasetti; Liz Ruff, Urban Sign; and Alisa Vignalo.
About Mad. Sq. Art and Madison Square Park Conservancy:
Mad. Sq. Art is the free, contemporary art program of Madison Square Park Conservancy. Since 2004, Mad. Sq. Art has commissioned and presented thirty-two premier installations in Madison Square Park by acclaimed artists ranging in practice and media.
Madison Square Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization whose mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. The Conservancy is committed to engaging the community through its beautiful gardens, inviting amenities, and world-class programming. Madison Square Park Conservancy is licensed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to manage Madison Square Park and is responsible for raising 98% of the funds necessary to operate the Park, including the brilliant horticulture, park maintenance, sanitation, security, and free cultural programs for Park visitors of all ages.
Martin Puryear, Big Bling, 2016. Collection of the artist, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. © Martin Puryear. The exhibition was organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York. Major exhibition support for Big Bling is provided by the Ford Foundation, Matthew Marks Gallery, the Henry Luce Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, J.P. Morgan Securities, and Unalam of Unadilla, New York, with substantial exhibition support provided by the Association for Public Art.
Big Bling is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mad. Sq. Art is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Mad. Sq. Art is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
This artwork is part of the Along Kelly Drive tour