It knocks me silly


Coming upon sculptures by Martin Puryear, the subject of a strong retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, is always an arresting pleasure, like entering a zone where time slows. I’m drawn into a relationship with something unique (the hardworking but unprolific Puryear almost never repeats himself, as if relaunching his career with each piece) which is both rawly physical and somehow fanciful. It’s usually carved or carpentered wood, subtly evocative of animate, utilitarian, or architectural entities, and mysterious and friendly. As strange as a piece’s form may be, it seems consolingly familiar, like a family friend who was often around in your childhood. It imparts a holiday feeling. In advance of the MOMA show, I wondered how Puryears, when displayed in quantity, could preserve their respective quotients of sweet surprise. Wouldn’t they crowd one another? They don’t. Each keeps its own counsel, cordially indifferent to its neighbors.

more from the New Yorker here.