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'Big Bling' 22-Karat Gold-Tipped Sculpture Coming to Madison Square Park

By Noah Hurowitz | March 30, 2016 4:40pm
 A mock-up of
A mock-up of "Big bling," by Martin Puryear, shows the scale of the 40-foot structure that will rise in Madison Square Park on May 16.
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Madison Square Park Conservancy

FLATIRON — A 4-story, abstract plywood sculpture will rise in Madison Square Park in May and tower above the neighborhood for the next six months.

“Big Bling,” a structure built of plywood, chain-link fencing, and gold leaf by sculptor Martin Puryear will rise 40 feet above the Oval Lawn in Madison Square Park from May 16 through next January.

“Big Bling” will be the biggest installation yet by Puryear, who has shown many of his smaller pieces at shows at the MoMA,  New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery and an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where he is described as “one of the leading sculptors of his generation.”

Puryear is known for his work with more durable materials — he often crafts pieces out of iron, bronze, and high-quality wood — but “Big Bling” will be more roughly hewn, constructed mostly from plywood and chain-link fencing.

"Big Bling" combines geometric angles with more organic shapes, including the spinal curvature of the statue’s rear and the blobby cut-out in the center of the structure. At the top is the titular bling, a gold-leaf shackle that stands in contrast to the grittier construction materials making up the rest of the work.

The Madison Square Park Conservancy commissioned “Big Bling” two years ago, according to Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the organization’s senior curator. 

“Martin Puryear is an extremely distinguished artist, and we’re thrilled to have his work in the park,” she said. 

Construction of the piece, which was built in sections and will be assembled onsite, took place at Puryear’s studio upstate. The grand opening of the installation is set for May 16, but due to the scale of the project, curious passersby will get a glimpse starting in early May, Kamin Rapaport said.

“One thing that’s exciting about public art in New York is the public finds fascination in seeing the piece being constructed,” she said.