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.
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.
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.
- Forged Sculpture I – 2013
- Scepter Candleholders, 2014
- Star Sculpture, 2008
- The Sentinel Sculpture 2003
- Forged Iron Botanical Candlesticks, 1993
- “Chrysalis” Floor Vase 1993/1994
- Comet Table Lamp in Steel and Frosted Glass
- 1994 “Medallion” Paperweight in Blackened Steel with Bronzed Patina
- Cast Iron Coat Rack 1973
- Pendant 1973
- 2010: American Craft Council Gold Medal Award for consummate craftsmanship
- 1998: received the Artist of the Year Award of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester.
- 1997: Smithsonian Institution, Masters of the Medium Award, Washington, D.C.
- 1995: American Institute of Architects (AIA), Institute Honors Recipient, Lifetime Achievement Award
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Citation for Distinguished Service in the Visual Arts
- 1994: American Craft Council, Inducted to the College of Fellows
- 1982: American Institute of Architects (AIA), Award of Excellence
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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