Martin Puryear. Fern from Cane. 2000
Martin Puryear

Fern from Cane

2000
Not on view
Medium
One from the suite of seven unbound woodcuts accompanying the illustrated book
Dimensions
composition: 10 7/16 x 12 11/16" (26.5 x 32.3 cm); sheet: 16 3/4 x 20 11/16" (42.5 x 52.5 cm)
Publisher
The Arion Press, San Francisco
Printer
The Arion Press, San Francisco
Edition
50
Credit
Gift of Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro
Object number
1388.2000.14
Portfolio

Cane

Department
Drawings and Prints

Martin Puryear's career began with a brief period of printmaking that was rekindled only recently. Early on he displayed a facility for drawing, a voracious appetite for learning about subjects as diverse as ornithology, archery, and Native American history, and a particular aptitude for building useful objects. During a two-year stint in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, he developed an interest in and respect for the wood carvers of that region. Upon his return, he was accepted at Sweden's Royal Academy of Art as a printmaking student. There Puryear found himself deeply drawn to Scandinavian wood carving and began spending his evenings in the sculpture studio while also accepting unofficial apprenticeships with local craftspeople. When he returned to the United States, he enrolled in the art program at Yale, absorbing the current developments in Minimalism, post-Minimalism, earthworks, and site-specific sculpture.

Puryear's work, consisting primarily of sculpture in wire mesh, tar, bronze, leather, and his preferred medium of wood, reflects these diverse influences and experiences. Abstractions that resemble organic and biomorphic shapes suggest a usefulness or functionality and often reveal a labor-intensive handcraftsmanship and an interest in culture and identity. Since the 1980s, he has resumed printmaking at various workshops, gravitating toward direct, physical mediums such as etching and woodcut. Puryear has made approximately twenty-five prints, many of which echo the forms of his sculptures, including this Untitled work. The woodcuts for Cane, a poetic novel of the Harlem Renaissance, combine organic forms and figurative presences and are named for the female characters in the story.

Publication excerpt from Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 232

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource