Description: ARTIST'S DATES
Dimensions: 63 by 62 by 8 in.
160 by 157.5 by 20.3 cm.
Medium: pine and cypress
Date: Executed in 1985.
Exhibited: Chicago, Donald Young Gallery, Martin Puryear, October - November 9, 1985, cat. no. 1
Kansas City Art Institute, Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery, Personal Preferences, September - October 1986, cat. no. 4
Provenance: PROPERTY OF THE ESTATE OF VERA G. LIST
Benefit Auction for the New Museum of Contemporary Art
Acquired by the present owner from the above in April 1987
Notes: Inspired by his interaction with African woodworkers and Swedish craftsmen, Puryear's sculpture is uniquely dedicated to a celebration of construction, rather than the more traditional sculptural techniques of carving and casting. Puryear's skills at manipulating his chosen medium of wood allow him to develop an organic unity between his material and his visual vocabulary of form. With an affinity for emphatic patterns and undulating line, Puryear's work is more art than craft in its achievements in abstracted form.
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Puryear's renowned "ring" sculptures are the most organic of his visual conceptions. Amulet is one of approximately forty "ring" sculptures by Puryear, created in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As opposed to his large floor sculptures and outdoor installations, the circles are a refined motif on a human scale. Vaguely symbolic, the circles resonate on the wall, whether constructed of inlaid, laminated woods or bent saplings. Puryear's technical skill in these intimate works takes on a variety of permutations, from open-ended forms to faceted, angled hoops. With its overlapping ends at the top and the "bead" of wood at the bottom, Amulet bows out gently away from the wall, creating a series of cast shadows that add to the work's linear complexity.Yet Puryear's appreciation for contrasting qualities is apparent in the dual sense of a floating presence, with the implied weight of the pierced ball. This counterpoint renders the deceptively simple motif of the circle into an object with a subtle power and presence.