Abstract Sculptures of DC: Bearing Witness

The large sculpture sitting in front of the Wilson Center blends natural and manmade forms.

The Bearing Witness sculpture located outside of the Wilson Center at the Ronald Reagan Building stands out from the large federal buildings that surround it. Completed in 1997, the sculpture is composed of multiple bronze sheets that create a large bulb shape, but with one side pressed flat, as if the sculpture had at once been on its side and was reshaped during the process. Depending on which side of the sculpture the viewer stands on, the rounded and/or flat sides are visible. The artist, Martin Puryear, took inspiration from traditional and indigenous art techniques to create the design.

As the name suggests, the sculpture stands as a witness to the people that go in and out of the Wilson Center. Additionally, the viewer is a witness to the sculpture itself, adding another layer to the name’s interpretation. Puryear described the location as highly influential on the sculpture’s design because it stands outside of a federally-owned building. The minimalist design allows the sculpture to look both manmade and natural, breaking up the flow of the architecture that surrounds it.

Within the Federal Triangle Historic District and Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site.

This site is a stop on the Abstract Sculptures of DC tour.



1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 20004