National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Profile Martin Puryear (artist)
American, born 1941
Paulson Press (publisher)
Profile, 2002
softground etching with drypoint on chine collé
plate: 60.5 x 45.3 cm (23 13/16 x 17 13/16 in.) sheet: 88.5 x 70.9 cm (34 13/16 x 27 15/16 in.)
Gift of Bridgewater Associates
2006.167.1
Not on View
From the Tour: African American Artists: Collection Highlights
Object 11 of 22

Martin Puryear is primarily a sculptor, and like his three-dimensional art, his works on paper embody a sense of monolithic form in their simple and organic shapes. Profile's swelling form particularly mimics the artist's cranial-shaped sculptures in wire, mesh, and wood. The abstract image on paper compels us to engage our imagination. While its title and outline suggest a human profile, typically distinguishing features—nose, lips, and eyes—are absent. In its minimalism, Profile evokes a smooth, flat stone, a guitar pick, or anything else a viewer imagines its central shape to be.

Puryear was born in Washington, DC, in 1941. After earning his BA there from Catholic University, he joined the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, Africa, where he had the chance to study woodworking techniques such as basketry and carpentry. Puryear then attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm and independently continued his studies in woodworking. He received an MFA in sculpture from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. In 2007 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, organized a thirty-year retrospective exhibition of his work. Puryear lives and works outside New York City.

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