Weathering steel and stainless steel
Lent by Paley Studios, Ltd.
Born 1944, Philadelphia, PA
Works in Rochester, NY
Albert Paley's sculptures are towering explorations of form, composition and the surprisingly expressive range yielded by deftly worked ferrous metals. Paley has described his design theory as "founded in paradox," and revels in the dichotomous character of iron and steel that embodies opposite and seemingly contradictory states: movement and stasis, suppleness and strength, rigidity and plasticity. His fascination with the changeable nature of metal has fostered an innovative forging technique hailed by some as instrumental in the resurgence of American metalsmithing. Yet Paley also understands himself to be the inheritor of an ancient tradition, and his art is nourished by many sources: medieval gothic and baroque scrollwork, the organic flights of Art Nouveau, all combined with personal fantasy.
Portal-like, Apollo sweeps up and fans out boldly, to be approached head-on. As with all of Paley's work, the sculpture is laden with references. In Greek and Roman myth, Apollo ruled as the god of sunlight, prophecy, music, and poetry. Riding the skies in his chariot drawn by swans, he was the vanquisher of unconscious terrors, the antithesis to the shadowy realm of Dionysus. Apollo also draws from the unique patterns and formations found in nature: at the center of Paley's interpretation, a weathered steel sun emanates its warmth—two arboreal forms of stainless steel grow tall and bright on either side. Waves of water and sound, layered clouds on the horizon, leafy branches outstretched—all blend together with energy, exuberance and lucid balance. Paley's initial training as a goldsmith is also evident in the attention he pays to ornamentation, bolstering, rather than distracting from, the work's structural integrity.