Dragon's Back Lamp
Designer / Maker
Designed and manufactured by Albert Paley (born 1944)
Formed, fabricated and blackened steel, with glass
201 x 69 cm
American (Rochester, New York), 1995
Albert Paley; acquired from the artist by John Scott, circa 2000(?); the Executors of John Scott
‘ALBERT PALEY 1995’ and ‘S-33.7’ (on base)
Art Nouveau Continental Design & Sculpture: the John Scott Collection, London: Fine Art Society, 2015, no. 99 (where dated circa 2000)
This work is from the DL199501 edition. It is an earlier and more elaborate variant of an edition of 20, an example of which was offered at Rago Auctions, 20 January 2022, lot 593.
A note from Elizabeth Cameron, Consulting Archivist, Paley Studios (email, 10 June 2022) confirms that Albert Paley created several editions of this form and that the two earliest editions were small, hands on and much more ornate that the later ones.
In a note for Rago, Glenn Adamson wrote:
‘Paley began his professional career as a jeweler creating works of wearable art that merged the sinuous and organic lines of European Art Nouveau with the visual weight of metalwork. Later in 1969, Paley accepted a position teaching goldsmithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, but continued to pursue his sculptural aspirations on the side. In 1972, Paley was commissioned to produce the Portal Gates at the Smithsonian Institute’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. Completed in 1973, and installed in 1976, the monumental steel, bronze and copper doors earned Paley national recognition as a metalsmith of truly unique vision.
Albert Paley’s sculptures don’t simply occupy space; they command it. Paley possesses a rare ability to transform iron from a lifeless and unyielding metal into a moving, almost liquid, element. Despite the seemingly spontaneous and organic nature of his work, Paley is a consummate draftsman, envisioning the majority of his creations on paper before stepping to the forge.
Crossing the boundaries between art and craft, Paley has established himself as one of the greatest metal artists in the country. Throughout his career, he has completed several important private and public site-specific commissions including the Clay Center Sculpture at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in West Virginia and the Animals Always installation at the St. Louis Zoo. Further, his works have been widely published and can be found in multiple major museum collections around the world.’
And, from the Albert Paley website, a comment by Edward Lucie-Smith:
‘Coaxing pieces of steel with old and new tools and techniques, Albert Paley has simply endeavored to release its material nature. He coils, compresses, attenuates, bands, punches, and impresses the pieces, and their surfaces and shapes record the process of their composition and decomposition. A forged taper that coils its way through other coiling tapers in a plant stand, for example, thins at its attenuated end into mesmerizing loops that grasp other loops, each a visual diary of its path of fabrication through power lathes and pneumatic hammers. Paley is not making metal conform to a preestablished image, bending it to his will, but asking — as fellow Philadelphian Louis Kahn once did of brick — what does a piece of metal want to be?’