American, b. 1941
Maquette for Everything That Rises, 1993
20 1/8 x 21 1/2 x 9 3/8 in. (51.1 x 54.6 x 23.8 cm)
© Martin Puryear, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery
Photo by Jeffrey Jenkins
Puryear’s 1997 commissioned work for the University of Washington’s Seattle campus was constructed from hammered bronze plates rather than cast bronze, which is more typical for the material. Instead of outsourcing this sculpture to a foundry, Puryear worked with a Kentucky company that created stills for liquor out of hammered metal and built up the work from parts. He emulated these stills because of his desire to create a sculpture that seemed to be holding a liquid: a bulbous double form that is just slightly larger on top than on bottom, as though a solution is rising in a pipette.  

Puryear has acknowledged the title’s reference to the Flannery O’Connor 1961 short story “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” choosing, however, to omit the conclusion of the phrase. The artist has commented, “I like to give my work titles that are provocative and open up possible ways for people to look at the work and think about the work rather than close it down.” For Puryear, the possibility of his work evoking associations beyond their physical forms has been a compelling factor in the decision to title works or leave them untitled.