This Week in Art

Martin Puryear to Represent the U.S. in Venice, Cuban Artists Speak Out & Doris Salcedo’s “Counter-Monument”

Martin Puryear. Big Bling, 2016. Courtesy of Madison Square Park.

Last week it was announced that Martin Puryear has been selected to represent the United States at the 58th Venice Biennale. According to The New York Times, he will create new, site-specific pieces for the pavilion, including multiple sculptures and an outdoor installation. “Martin is one of the most important artists working today,” curator Brooke Kamin Rapaport told the publication, “His work confronts contemporary issues and he has by now influenced generations of artists in our country and internationally.” As the deputy director and senior curator of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, Rapaport will curate Puryear’s work at the upcoming 2019 pavilion.

“…crowning it all like a beacon, I see your wealth, your gilded shackle, the golden ring…”

Puryear is the second African American artist in a row to represent the U.S. in Venice, after Mark Bradford was chosen in 2017. According to artnet News, it is also the first time that an institution for public art has been selected to organize the United States pavilion in Venice. In 2016, Madison Square Park hosted Puryear’s sculpture Big Bling, a 40-foot-tall curved tower of chainlink fencing and plywood. “This enormous wooden construction was conceived by me as a kind of visual praise poem, an ode, to New York City,” Puryear said in a statement on the work. “It was my way of saying: I see you New York. I see how you grow and compartmentalize and stratify. I see how you beckon and promise (and also how you exclude). And crowning it all like a beacon, I see your wealth, your gilded shackle, the golden ring (the bling), the prize, our pride, maybe even our success.”

News of the Week

  • As part of the peace accord signed between the government of previous Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Doris Salcedo has created a monument to honor the victims of the armed conflict. In Fragmentos, Salcedo uses the weapons of demobilized guerilla members to create what’s been described as a “counter-monument,” highlighting the irredeemable nature of war.
  • New York Close Up artist Mika Rottenberg has been named the winner of the 2019 Kurt Schwitters Prize, a biennial award that recognizes artists who have made a significant contribution to contemporary art.
  • This is the last week to see Summer of Love at Freight + Volume Gallery in New York. A large group exhibition curated by Nick Lawrence, the show presents a diverse body of work by 111 artists exploring themes of love and romance, the quandaries of relationships, and sympathetic resonances in the natural world. On view through September 5.

The Artist Speaks

Cuban artists Tania Burguera, Coco Fusco, and Enrique Risco, along with human rights attorney Laritza Diversent and curator Yanelys Nuñez have come together to push against Decree 348, a new piece of Cuban legislation which requires that the government pre-approve all independent cultural activity. Together the artists have formed the group Artistas Cubanxs en Contra del Decreto 349, publishing a Facebook page and a letter addressed to president Miguel Diaz Canel, in which they call for a dialogue between state officials and Cuban artists, as they were not consulted about the new law.

“The new laws restrict the creativity of the Cuban people and criminalize independently produced art, limiting the ability to determine who can be an artist to a state institution,” the letter reads. “Cuban artists have not been consulted and will not have recourse to independent arbiters in the case of any dispute.”