Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941) is the United States representative to the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Puryear is recognized for a fiercely independent visual language of object making that has developed over a half-century. His sculptural practice — work in wood, bronze, rattan, iron, tar, mesh, granite, fieldstone and other materials — has influenced generations of artists. Puryear’s 2007 retrospective was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and toured to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. An exhibition of his drawings, Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and on view at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His distinguished awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1980), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant (1982), and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1992), was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (1994), the Gold Metal in Sculpture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2007) and received the National Medal of Arts (2011). Puryear lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York. His work is in the major public and private collections in the United States, Europe and Japan. He is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery. Puryear earned his B.A. from The Catholic University of America (1963), served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone (1964-66), studied printmaking at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts (1966-68) and received his M.F.A. from Yale University (1971).
Biennale Arte 2019
Brooke Kamin Rapaport is Commissioner and Curator of the United States Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. She is Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator and is responsible for the outdoor public sculpture program of commissioned work by contemporary artists. Through Madison Square Park Conservancy, she founded Public Art Consortium, a national coalition of museum and sculpture park colleagues. Rapaport was assistant and associate curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she oversaw the permanent collection and organized numerous exhibitions including Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960 (2001), and a series of installations in the Grand Lobby with contemporary artists such as Houston Conwill, Leon Golub, and Meg Webster. Rapaport was also a guest curator at The Jewish Museum in New York, where she organized exhibitions including The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend (2007) and Houdini: Art and Magic (2010). She frequently speaks on and moderates programs on contemporary art and issues in public art. Rapaport also writes for Sculpture, where she is a contributing editor. She serves on the boards of Socrates Sculpture Park, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. She earned her B.A. from Amherst College and her M.A. in Art History from Rutgers University.
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are the exhibition designers for the U.S. Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Williams and Tsien began working together in 1977 and founded their architectural practice in 1986. Located in New York City, their studio focuses on work for institutions including schools, museums, and not-for-profits. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience, are at the heart of what they build. Notable projects include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the LeFrak Center in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Asia Society Center in Hong Kong and they are currently designing the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. They also previously participated in the 13th Annual Venice Architecture Biennale, with their curated exhibit “Wunderkammer”. Over the past three decades, they have received numerous national and international citations, including the 2013 National Medal of the Arts from President Obama and the Architecture Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects. Outside the studio, Williams and Tsien are active participants in a broad cultural community and maintain long-standing associations with many organizations devoted to the arts. Williams is a trustee at both the American Academy in Rome and the Cranbrook Educational Community. Tsien is the current president of the Academy of Arts and Letters. Both are Fellows of the American Academy in Rome, and have been inducted into the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Academy of Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences In parallel with their practice, they maintain active academic careers and lecture worldwide. At various times, they have taught at such institutions as the Cooper Union, Harvard University, Cornell University, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania among many others. As both educators and practitioners, they are dedicated to creating a better world through architecture.
Darby English is serving as exhibition scholar for the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. He is the Carl Darling Buck Professor at the University of Chicago, where he teaches courses in modern and contemporary art and cultural studies. His research explores art’s interaction with established historical forms and its role relative to social change. He is the author of 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (2016) and How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (2007). A new monograph, To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror, will be published in February 2019 by Yale University Press. The book synthesizes new work with material first presented in November 2016 as the Richard D. Cohen Lectures at Harvard University. English also serves as Adjunct Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where – with Charlotte Barat – he is editing a book. Among Others: Blackness at MoMA, to be published in 2019. English’s work has appeared in Art Bulletin, Artforum, The Guardian, The International Review of African-American Art, and other venues. English holds a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from Williams College and a Ph. D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.
Paula Scher is the graphic designer for the U.S. Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. She has been a principal in the New York office of the international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991, where she has designed identity and branding systems, environmental graphics, packaging and publications for a wide range of clients, including Bloomberg, Citibank, The High Line, The Metropolitan Opera, Microsoft, The Museum of Modern Art, Shake Shack, Tiffany & Co, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Public Theater, and Sundance Institute. Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of industry honors and awards, including the National Design Award for Communication Design, the AIGA medal and the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. Scher served on the Public Design Commission of the City of New York from 2006-2015. She is an established artist exhibiting worldwide, and her designs are in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Library of Congress, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is the author of Make It Bigger (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) MAPS (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) and Works (Unit Editions, 2017). A documentary on Scher and her work can be seen in the 2017 Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design. Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Moore College of Art and Design.
Anne M. Wagner will write a major essay for the exhibition catalogue. She is an art historian, critic and teacher. Among her essays and articles are studies of Andy Warhol’s “Race Riot” paintings, the silhouette installations of Kara Walker, the role of language and vision in the work of Anne Truitt, and the topic of mortality in Charles Ray’s sculpture. Her books include Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Sculptor of the Second Empire (Yale University Press, 1986); Three Artists (Three Women) (University of California Press, 1996); Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture (Yale University Press, 2005); and A House Divided: On Recent American Art (University of California Press, 2012). She is Class of 1936 Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. From 2010-13, she was Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of York, and in 2013-14, Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute. Since 2013, she has been a Trustee of the Henry Moore Foundation. In 2012, Tate Britain staged Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, which Wagner co-curated with T.J. Clark. Its catalogue was named among the Best Art Books of 2013 by Financial Times. In 2017, Wagner and Clark also curated Pity and Terror: Picasso’s Path to Guernica (2017), a major exhibition mounted by the Museo Nacionál Centro de Arte Reina Sofia to mark the bombing of the Basque capital in 1937. She earned her B.A. from Yale University in 1971, her M.A. from Brown University in 1974, and received her Ph. D. from Harvard University in 1980.
Tobi Haslett has written about art, film, and literature for n+1, The New Yorker, Artforum, and elsewhere. He wrote the introduction to Horse Crazy, a novel by Gary Indiana from 1989, reissued in September by Seven Stories Press, and recently contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue for a retrospective of the Iranian-American theater director Reza Abdoh. Haslett is a doctoral student in English at Yale University.
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University and writes The Ethicist column for The New York Times. He was born in London, but moved as an infant to Kumasi, Ghana, where he grew up. He explored questions of African and African-American identity in In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1992); examined the cultural dimensions of global citizenship in Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (W.W. Norton, 2007); and investigated the social and individual importance of identity in The Ethics of Identity (Princeton University Press, 2005). He’s also written some two dozen other books including three mystery novels. Professor Appiah has been President of the PEN American Center and serves on the boards of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the New York Public Library and the Public Theater. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. In 2018 he chaired the Man Booker Prize jury. His most recent book, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity (Liveright, 2018), explores the role of gender, creed, country, culture and class in shaping individual and social experience. He received BA and PhD degrees in philosophy from Cambridge and has taught in Ghana, France, Britain, and the United States.
Studio Institute of Studio in a School, New York
Istituto Provinciale per l’Infanzia Santa Maria della Pietà, Venice
In conjunction with the presentation at the U.S. Pavilion, the Conservancy and Puryear will realize outreach programs with underserved youth through a collaboration between Studio Institute of Studio in a School Association, Inc. in New York and Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà in Venice. The partnership between Studio Institute and La Pietà will consist of American university students affiliated with Studio Institute traveling to Venice to work with La Pietà’s at-risk youth in a curriculum developed for the Biennale.
Studio in a School is a nonprofit organization that fosters the creative and intellectual development of New York City youth through quality visual arts programs directed by arts professionals. Studio Institute, a division of Studio in a School led by President Tom Cahill, shares professional learning, partnership programs, arts internships, and research grants in local and national forums. Studio’s teaching artists regularly lead Conservancy programs related to the exhibitions on view. In 2016, high school students had the opportunity to meet with Martin Puryear to discuss Big Bling.
La Pietà traces its roots to a foundling hospital established in 1346, and has had a long and compelling history in Venice through seven centuries of social and cultural activity. The organization offers studio spaces for exhibitions, rooms for young people and for mothers and children, and a broader community program. They serve children in difficult societal circumstances (aged thirteen to seventeen) and mothers with children (up to twelve years of age).
Madison Square Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization whose mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. The Conservancy is committed to engaging the community through its program of commissioned outdoor public art, beautiful gardens, and inviting amenities.
Keats Myer, the Conservancy’s Executive Director, guided the 2015-16 Strategic Plan, which identified our art program and horticulture program as core priorities, and has also launched a $10 million capital campaign for the organization. As Executive Director at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, she oversaw the construction of a new museum (by Work AC), established the organization’s endowment, grew attendance from 13,000 to 120,000 and assembled a Board of Trustees. As Executive Director of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, she led planning, design, construction and fundraising for a new home designed by Lee H. Skolnick.
Conservancy staff with key roles on the Venice project includes Veronica Bainbridge, Director of Development, and Julia Friedman, Senior Curatorial Manager. Francesco Cordioli is the Project and Communications Assistant.
Since 2004, the Conservancy has commissioned and presented over 30 premier installations in Madison Square Park by acclaimed artists ranging in practice and media. The seven-acre park in midtown Manhattan has shown 35 large-scale art works in a vast range of media-including sculpture in all materials, video and light, performance and social practice. The Conservancy has developed a national and international reputation for showcasing challenging and inspiring works of contemporary outdoor sculpture.
Distinguished artists realizing projects in the Park include Diana Al-Hadid, Tony Cragg, Teresita Fernández, Josiah McElheny, Iván Navarro, Roxy Paine, Giuseppe Penone, Alison Saar, Arlene Shechet, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Martin Puryear’s Big Bling was on view in Madison Square Park from May 2016 to April 2017. It traveled to Philadelphia in 2017 through the Association for Public Art, and will be on view in 2019 at MASS MoCA.
Board of Trustees
David Berliner, Chair Emeritus
Daniel L. Berger
William Castro, Ex officio
Michael L. Kahn
Robert T. Lapidus
Leslie Spira Lopez
Ronald A. Pizzuti
George W. Ahl III
Paul C. Ha
Toby Devan Lewis
Ursula von Rydingsvard
Helen W. Henry
Lily Hayes Salzberg
Kimberly Harounian Zaga