Albert Paley (born 1944) is an American modernist metal sculptor. Initially starting out as a jeweler, Paley has become one of the most distinguished and influential metalsmiths in the world.[1] Within each of his works, three foundational elements stay true: the natural environment, the built environment, and the human presence.[2] Paley is the first metal sculptor to have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects.[3][4] He lives and works in Rochester, New York with his wife, Frances.

Albert Paley
Albert Paley.jpg
Paley (left) shows off his studio in 2006 to Dana Gioia and Louise Slaughter.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Alma materTemple University
Known forSculpture
Spouse(s)Frances Paley
Push Plate, a bronze sculpture by Albert Paley, 1981, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Early life and educationEdit

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during World War II. While his father fought in the Burma Campaign, Albert and his mother lived with his maternal grandparents.[5] Most of Paley's free-time in his young years became occupied by model-kits and the outdoors. At around age 8, Paley joined the Boy Scouts of America, and even became a face for a billboard for the Boy Scouts. At 16, he dropped out of school with no intention of going to college — he planned to work jobs and support his mother after his father developed arthritis.

It wasn't until a girlfriend took him to the Tyler School of Art that Paley found a blossoming passion for the arts.[6] After excelling in a first semester at Tyler, Albert was accepted into the selective honors program where he had a free selection of classes. During his second year at Tyler, Paley became interested in jewelry-making. He became a studio assistant in the school's metal-shop under the supervision of Stanley Lechtzin, who was a strong influence for Paley.[5]

Paley earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpting with a minor in metalsmithing in 1966. After receiving his BFA, Paley was torn between sculpting and metalwork for a master's degree, but eventually settled and earned his Master of Fine Arts in goldsmithing. Paley taught full-time while a graduate student, and had stopped experimenting in sculpture, focusing all his time and energy into jewelry work. He received both diplomas from the Tyler School of Art, a part of Temple University, in Philadelphia.[5] He moved to Rochester, New York in 1969 to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he now holds an endowed chair.[7] He taught goldsmithing until 1972, when he decided to focus solely on his own work.



After receiving his MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Paley worked with metal as a jewelry designer. He became well known for his style and scale. His jewelry was often big and unique, described by Paley himself for “a certain kind of personality that could carry it...for a strong woman rather than someone who was repressed”.[5][8] Despite his movement toward forging iron and away from jewelry in the 70's, Paley still continued to make jewelry during the beginning of his career in metalworking. Much of his jewelry was made for private commissions, keeping the pieces solely between him and his clients. He eventually stopped making jewelry completely, collecting any pieces in the possession of galleries, and selling all his tools. Since 1965, Paley's jewelry and metal work have been in over one hundred and fifty national and international exhibitions.[9]

Portal Gates, gate commission for the Renwick Gallery by Albert Paley, 1974, Renwick Gallery

Gates & Functional ObjectsEdit

During his last year in the Philadelphia area, Paley began experimenting with metal again, specifically forging iron. He and Lechtzin pulled together a small workshop for forging in the garage of Lechtzin's home, and spent the summer of 1969 reading about forging and learning how to work with different tools.[5] Paley's big breakthrough was in 1973, when he was awarded a commission from the Smithsonian to design the portal gates for the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. [10] In order to build the gates, Paley found a space to rent and filled it with machinery. He hired a past student, Richard Palmer, as a full-time assistant, and they spent a year creating the famous Portal Gates for the Renwick. After the Portal Gates, Paley's career in metalworking took off, with a focus in functional design: tables, lamps, and other usable forms of sculpture. Paley had created an array of decorative objects before the Renwick Gates, using his garage-shop. But after the gates were finished for the Renwick, Paley was left with a much larger work-space, in addition to a full-time assistant, supplies, and machinery. Paley already had another museum commission from the Hunter Museum of American Art in Tennessee for an 85-foot long ornamental fence[permanent dead link].[11] Since then, Paley has done many private commissions for driveway, garden, and fence gates in addition to his numerous public commissions. Some of his gates to note are the Portal Gates for the New York State Senate Chamber of the State Capitol (1980); the Victoria and Albert Gates for the Victoria and Albert Museum[1] (1982); and the Animals Always Gateway Sculpture for the St. Louis Zoo (2006), currently the largest sculpture at any zoo in the U.S.[12][13]

Large-Scale SculptureEdit

Paley's first major public sculpture was his Sculpture for the Strong Museum in 1982. It was his first piece that showed a transition from smaller-scale work to his monumental sizes. Paley did several other large-scale sculptures in the 80's which share similarities in their simplicity of form with basic elements. Over time, his sculptures have moved away from simple forms, increasing in both complexity and color. In the summer of 2013, Paley was the featured artist on Park Avenue.[14] Thirteen sculptures were installed for exhibition between 52nd and 67th Streets in New York City. This collection of sculptures was one of Paley's larger projects for one exhibition.[15] Craft in America featured Paley as the final Forge artist in Season 5, aired on PBS.[16] Paley's career move from Goldsmith to Metal Sculptor is well explained in an interesting interview by Cathleen McCarthy.[17]

Glass & SteelEdit

In 1998, Paley was invited to the Pilchuck Glass School[2] for a summer residency. While there, Paley created a mass of glass elements that would be used in later sculptures in Rochester. Paley did another glass residency in 2014 with the Corning Museum of Glass[3] located in Corning, New York. He worked there for a year, where he practiced furnace-working and cast Corning Code 7056, a specific type of glass that can form bonds with a metal alloy called Kovar.[18] Paley chose this specific glass blend because of its similar properties to that of Kovar, which allowed him to create pieces that fused the glass and metal with each other.[19][20] The first exhibition to focus on Paley's combining of glass and steel, Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley at Museum of Glass will take place during the 2017 - 2018 season, and will display a collection of pieces spanning Paley's work with glass.[21]

Major Architectural CommissionsEdit

Listed below are some of Albert Paley's major architectural commissions during his career.


  • 2010: American Craft Council Gold Medal Award for consummate craftsmanship[22]
  • 1998: received the Artist of the Year Award of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester.[23]
  • 1997: Smithsonian Institution, Masters of the Medium Award, Washington, D.C.[24]
  • 1995: American Institute of Architects (AIA), Institute Honors Recipient, Lifetime Achievement Award[3]
    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[25]
  • 1982: American Institute of Architects (AIA), Award of Excellence


  1. ^ American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley. Corcoran Gallery of Art. 2014. ISBN 978-0-88675-084-8.
  2. ^ Ratcliff, Carter (2010). Albert Paley in the 21st Century. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-615-35392-0.
  3. ^ a b "Lecture by Albert Paley". AIA Miami. AIA Miami. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Albert Paley". Craft in America. Craft in America. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Lucie-Smith, Edward (1996). The Art of Albert Paley: Iron & Bronze & Steel. Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated. ISBN 0-8109-3748-4.
  6. ^ Gilbert, Lela (2008). Reconfiguration. Pinatubo Press. ISBN 978-0-9742683-2-3.
  7. ^ "Albert Paley". RIT Libraries Presents art on Campus. RIT Libraries, Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  8. ^ Albert Paley: Sculptural Adornment. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 1991. ISBN 0-295-97152-5.
  9. ^ The Metalwork of Albert Paley. John Michael Kohler Arts Center of the Sheboygan Arts Foundation, Inc. 1980. ISBN 0-932718-06-X.
  10. ^ Susan Stamberg (July 22, 2014). With Swirls Of Steel, These Sculptures Mark The Passage Of People And Time NPR.
  11. ^ Hasden, Wes (August 29, 1975). "Hunter Museum gets Wrought Iron Fence Sculpture". The Chattanooga Times.
  12. ^ "Animals Always Sculpture". Saint Louis Zoo. Saint Louis Zoo. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  13. ^ Rowe, M. Jessica (2007). Albert Paley: Portals & Gates. University Museums, Iowa State University. ISBN 978-0-9798111-0-4.
  14. ^ Sims, Patterson (2013). Albert Paley on Park Avenue. Silvana Editoriale, Italy. ISBN 8836627196.
  15. ^ "Summer Exhibition on Park Avenue Features 13 New Steel Sculptures by Albert Paley". Art Daily. Art Daily. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Paley on Park Avenue: New York City". WXXI. WXXI Public Broadcasting Council. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  17. ^ McCarthy, Cathleen (2010-07-22). "Albert Paley: Bodily Ornamentation". The Jewelry Loupe. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  18. ^ Hopman, Rebecca (2015). "A New Endeavor: The Corning Museum of Glass/Corning Incorporated Specialty Glass Residency" (PDF). GASNEWS. Vol. 26 no. 2. Corning Museum of Glass. pp. 12–13.
  19. ^ "Biography: Albert Paley". Corning Museum of Glass. Corning Museum of Glass. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  20. ^ Borgna, Stephen. "Artist Q&A: Albert Paley mixes metal, glass". The Leader. The Leader. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley". Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA. Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-07-07. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  22. ^ "Albert Paley". American Craft Council. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Arts Awards Recipients". Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  24. ^ "Masters of Medium". James Renwick Alliance. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  25. ^ "American Craft Council College of Fellows". American Craft Council. Archived from the original on 24 January 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.


External linksEdit

See alsoEdit