Albert Paley featured image

Artistic and functional metalwork combining old and new methods

Albert Paley (born 1944) is an American modernist metal sculptor. Starting as a jeweller, he has evolved into one of the world’s most renowned and famous metalsmiths. Furniture, gates, railings, and staircases are among his creations. He consults with architects and space planners, and he leads a team of craftspeople in his Rochester, New York, facilities.

Early Life

Albert Paley was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He left school at 16 and went to work in the art supply section of a local department store. While there he met a student from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art who persuaded him to apply to study there. He was successful and went on to study sculpture, and then took a master’s degree in gold-smithing.


By 1969 he had become one of the top jewellers in his field. He moved to Rochester New York where he taught Gold-Smithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He continued to create his large bold pieces that were designed to move in unison with the body. Tired of the perception of jewellery making as a craft rather than art he began to experiment with iron and steel. He made tables, candlesticks, mirrors and planters.

Ring by Albert Paley (1974) THE MET
Ring by Albert Paley (1974) THE MET


His work is ornamental yet sculptural in scale. It owes a lot to both art nouveau and Romanesque architecture’s simpler harmony of curves. All of his work works flawlessly, with gates that open and latches that close properly. Paley puts function first: “What gets made has to work as it is supposed to do.” He employs both old and modern blacksmithing processes, as well as hydraulic presses. Apart from his work’s undeniable aesthetic and utilitarian success, Paley has succeeded in combining what many craft-based designers have struggled to do: the practice of handwork and heavy industrial manufacturing.

Necklace - Albert Paley (1973) The MET
Necklace – Albert Paley (1973) The MET

Additional Works



Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Miller, J. (2009). 20Th Century design: The definitive illustrated sourcebook. Miller’s.

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