I first came to know the American sculptor, Martin Puryear, through his exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum. The show focused on Puryear’s drawings and his preparatory work for his large scale projects. There were also some of his sculptures — all sleek with clean lines and simple shapes that had powerful impact. But until my visit to Madison Square Park, I’ve never seen one of his massive pieces, like Bearing Witness which stands in front of the Ronald Reagan Building in DC.
Big Bling is more whimsical than Bearing Witness. It stands forty feet high and is a multi-tier wood structure wrapped in fine chain-link fence. A gold-leafed shackle is anchored near the top of the structure.
It’s standing in the middle of Madison Square Park and will be on view through January 8, 2017. You can’t get too close to it as there is a protective barrier around the perimeter. But one can view it from a variety of angles by walking around the Park; both on the greens and around the outside.
The shape is reminiscent of earlier Puryear works which bring to mind an elephant. And while the size here can feel overwhelming, Big Bling is also joyful and brought a smile to my face.
If you go to see it, I’d recommend entering the park from the west side; and go while the park is still green!