Modern and Contemporary
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Martin Puryear (American, born 1941),
Self , 1978
polychromed red cedar and mahogany, 69 x 48 x 25 in.; 175.26 x 121.92 x 63.5 cm
Museum purchase in memory of Elinor Ashton, 1980.63

Martin Puryear's art is inspired by the craft-oriented life of prehistoric societies whose relationship with nature was fundamental and ritualistic. Self is an outstanding example of the artist's concern for the underlying forces that govern the formal geometries of abstract sculpture. Although built of thin layers over a hollow core, the piece looks solid and heavy--like an immense stone jutting out of the earth. Puryear described the piece in terms of its reference to natural form and to the mystery of existence: "It might have been created by erosion, like a rock worn by sand and weather. ... It's meant to be a visual notion of the self rather than any particular self--the self as a secret entity, as a secret, hidden place."

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