Born in Washington D.C. in 1941, Martin Puryear studied at the Catholic University of America, the Swedish Royal Academy and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University.
Puryear is best known as a leading American sculptor, but he produced ten woodblock prints for Jean Toomer’s “Cane” in 2000. “Cane”, first published in 1923, is regarded as one of the highest literary achievements of the Harlem Renaissance and a masterpiece of African-American writing. Puryear’s woodcuts for “Cane” are on two scales, his seven larger images are abstract portraits of women characters in the book and the three smaller blocks are reinterpretations of the enigmatic arcs that the author places on pages dividing the sections of the first edition.
Puryear is a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.