Martin Puryear retrospective at Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth

Martin Puryear, “Ladder for Booker T. Washington”, 1996, Wood (ash and maple). Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth.

Through May 18, 2008, the traveling retrospective of work by Art21 artist Martin Puryear (Season 2), is on view at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth and features nearly 45 large-scale sculptures made over the past 30 years of the artist’s career. Organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where the exhibition debuted last year, it will also travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

One of the most striking objects in the exhibition, Ladder for Booker T. Washington (pictured above) is part of Fort Worth’s permanent collection. Inspired by homemade ladders that Puryear saw in the French countryside while he was working at Alexander Calder‚Äôs studio, in 2003, Puryear commented to Forth Worth‚Äôs chief curator, Michael Auping:

“It just occurred to me that this would be an interesting project to try to do, to make a very tall or long ladder. For a long time I had been interested in working with a kind of artificial perspective through sculpture, which if you think about it is not so easy to do. With a ladder, a very long ladder, I could make a form that would appear to recede into space faster visually than it in fact does physically, by manipulating the perspective and exaggerating it by narrowing the parallel side pieces toward the top of the form.”

Ladder for Booker T. Washington has been one of Forth Worth’s most popular objects since it was installed for their grand opening in 2002. It was also recently included in Picturing America, a new arts education program launched by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Watch an Art:21 video about the work here.

On Tuesday, April 8, Auping will conduct a public conversation with Puryear. This event is free to the public.

Contributor
Nicole J. Caruth is managing editor of the ART21 Magazine. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications, including ARTnews, C Magazine, Gastronomica, Public Art Review, and the Phaidon Press books Vitamin Green and Vitamin D2. A regular contributor to this site since 2008, she joined the ART21 staff in 2013.
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