Happy Jack 2020
61 × 74 × 27 inches; 155 × 188 × 69 cm

Throughout his career Puryear has created evocative sculptures by abstracting the human figure. Many of his best-known works, such as the early sculpture Self (1978), are biomorphic in form. Happy Jack, with its round corners and bodily connotations, resembles a monumental torso replete with a barrel chest and sloping shoulders, its neck stopping just below where a head would be.

Puryear’s sculptures are often made with labor-intensive methods that combine practices adapted from different traditions, including wood carving, joinery, and boat building. For Happy Jack he first carved a wood maquette in 1993, then worked with a master basket weaver, who wove the form in willow. Returning to the sculpture nearly a decade later, Puryear has now cast it in bronze.

<p><em>Happy Jack</em> in progress at the<br />artist’s studio, 2020</p>

Happy Jack in progress at the
artist’s studio, 2020

<p><em>Self</em> 1978<br />Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska</p>

Self 1978
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska