Artist Martin Puryear has been picked to represent the United States at the 2019 Venice Biennale, a reliable source has told ARTnews. Matthew Marks Gallery, which represents Puryear, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Saturday evening. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, which oversees the U.S. pavilion in Venice, also did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
On Monday morning, New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz was the first to float Puryear’s name in public, writing on Twitter: “I glean in the tea-leaves for the next American Pavilion at next Spring’s Venice Biennale: American sculptor Martin Puryear will represent the United States. An abundant bloom.”
In recent months, the question of which artist would represent the U.S. at the Biennale had become a hot topic, given that many past selections were revealed in the winter or spring in the year between Biennales, but no announcement has been made so far.
Puryear, who is 77, has won wide renown for his exquisitely crafted work in wood, which touches subtly on myriad aspects of American and world history. His work has appeared in the Whitney Biennials of 1979, 1981, and 1989, the year he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
In 2007–08, Puryear was the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he has had numerous other museum exhibitions and surveys, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, and elsewhere. In 2016–17, he presented a large-scale sculpture called Big Bling at Madison Square Park in New York, which showed later in Philadelphia.
The Venice Biennale is set to run next year from May 11 through November 24.
This post will be updated.