This summer, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design will present American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley, a retrospective survey of work by one of the world’s most distinguished metalsmiths. Spanning his remarkable 50-year career, the exhibition traces Paley’s work as a jeweler and forger of metal, and progresses through his recent, large-scale sculptural projects to reveal the artist’s unique place in American art.
American Metal includes approximately 75 objects in a variety of media, including paper, cardboard, wood, steel, bronze, and glass. Also not to be missed: a 12-feet-high maquette for Hallelujah, a sculpture commissioned for the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia in Charleston, West Virginia, displayed outside the galleries.
“Albert Paley, in every step of his career, has challenged, upended, and redefined the role of craft, ornament, and fine art in modern, urban life,” said Corcoran exhibit curator Eric Turner. “He not only established a valid, contemporary ironwork aesthetic, but with his more recent site-specific sculptures, has humanized the harshness of urban environments.”
American Metal serves as a homecoming of sorts for the artist, who, in 1972, won a competition to create a pair of gates for the Renwick Gallery here in DC —the original home for the Corcoran Gallery of Art before its present location on Seventeenth Street NW. The resulting commission for Portal Gates, 1974, was a pivotal moment in the artist’s career, setting him on a course for many other large-scale commissions.
Paley’s work can be seen throughout the region; among others, Epoch, 2004, stands at the corner of Ninth and G Streets NW, Washington National Cathedral Gate, 2007, can be seen at the National Cathedral, and The Beckoning, a massive sculpture for the National Harbor in Fort Washington, Maryland, was completed in 2009.
Work by Albert Paley can be found in the collections of more than 40 major museums. To date he has had 37 solo exhibitions and has contributed to many group projects, several of which traveled internationally.
Paley is the first — and remains the only — metalsmith to be awarded the coveted Institute Honors,1995, from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA’s highest award to a non-architect.
Want to learn how to metal like the master? On July 16th (5-9 pm) the Corcoran presents Uncorked: Heavy Metal, allowing guests not only to tour the exhibition, but also to check out a welding demonstration and enjoy drinks while heavy metal classics play throughout the evening. For more information and to register, see here.
*This exhibit is on view June 28th through September 28th, 2014.