American, b. 1941
Proposal for the Holocaust Memorial Museum (unrealized) , 1991
Graphite on ivory wove paper
23 x 29 in. (58.4 x 73.7 cm)
© Martin Puryear, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery
Photo by Jeffrey Jenkins
In his 1991 proposal for a sculpture commission for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, Puryear wrote:

How can the Holocaust be addressed in sculptural terms?
In the face of such an enormous human tragedy and the profound evil which produced it, beauty becomes mute.
The way must be cleared for individual reflection.
Dense interior space became the central element in my response.
Literal palpable depth, and density. Literal evidence of destruction.
Stillness, stasis.
(Dignity, respect)

Puryear’s work would have been a bronze sculpture cast from a charred cube of intersecting wooden timbers. The artist intended the work to serve as an artifact of a violent process to convey a sense of loss and desolation. While the project was ultimately not realized, for its installation in this exhibition, Puryear charred this maquette to reflect the visual and emotional impact he intended for the sculpture.