Jeweler Turned Sculptor

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Albert Paley went from designing jewelry to creating sculptures of immense stature, but continued to use the same soft touch, even when creating giants out of steel.

Size, Scale and Detail in Creations of Steel

By BENJAMIN GENOCCHIO
Published: February 5, 2010

It is easy to be impressed by the Albert Paley retrospective at Grounds for Sculpture, the 35-acre sculpture park and museum on the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton. The size and scale of the metal sculptures in this indoor exhibit are mind-blowing; some pieces are around 15 feet high, while others weigh up to a ton. They are monumental.

Born in Philadelphia in 1944, Mr. Paley initially worked in New York City making art jewelry, but in the late 1960s he moved to Rochester, where he is on the faculty of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is essentially an abstract artist, assembling dynamic, flamboyant structures using wedges, blocks and ribbons of steel.

The artist’s training as a jewelry designer has served him extremely well, for while the scale of his artwork has exploded, his attention to detail has remained steadfast. He is a perfectionist who seems to take delight in challenging himself in terms of execution and concept. He is also the only heavy metal sculptor I know who can make his material seem fragile and delicate.

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