Kiruna, from Puryear’s signature “Ring” series (1978–1985) of wall-mounted circular sculptures, exemplifies the perfect union of Minimalism and hand craftsmanship, with its pared-down circular form and handmade aesthetic. Working primarily in wood for more than thirty years, the artist constructed the object from strips of wood that he bent, glued, and shaved into shape. In a holdover from his artistic beginnings as a painter, Puryear applied color to the sculpture. The color palette reflects the plumage of a bird native to Lappland in northern Sweden, where the regional capital is Kiruna. The bird is brightly colored in the summer (note the color at the top of the sculpture) and camouflaged white in winter.

Martin Puryear
American, born 1941
Kiruna, 1982
Paint and gesso on pine
The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund, The African American Art Purchase Fund, and the Alexander A. Goldfarb Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund, 2009.3.1

From Our Collection

1480, Unknown Motherwell, 1995.4.1A-E 1938, Tchelitchew Murray, 1986

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