As I have posted about here recently, there’s an exhibition at Kent Fine Art in New York of the work made by artist/inventor/architect Paul Laffoley during his residence at The Boston Visionary Cell, his enigmatic one-man, one-room think tank on the second floor of a staid Boston office building (He was evicted a few years ago when the landlord discovered that he been living there).
The show is up through March and I’ve heard from everyone I know who has seen it, that it’s an absolute stunner, a “must see.” If you’re going to be in the NYC area in the next few months, it’ll be worth the pilgrimage to Chelsea, I can assure you. Ken Johnson at The New York Times called it “an excellent introduction to one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”
I’ve been to The Boston Visionary Cell and it was certainly one of the most eccentric dwellings I have every experienced. Obviously the home of a genius living in modest circumstances, the tiny space had neither windows, a kitchen, bathroom or anything more, really, than a sink and yet for decades, some of the most extraordinary artwork of our time was produced there.
Aside from several works in progress, some large easels and a drafting table, there were LOTS OF BOOKS, thousands upon thousands of them on every subject under the sun in stacks that were up to 5 feet tall. It was not easy getting a small TV crew into the room without knocking anything over, although we more or less managed. During a lull in the taping, I mentioned to Paul how I’d recently been trying to find a copy of Timothy Leary’s rare book Terra II without success, and he went right over to the stacks and plucked the book from near the bottom of one with the dexterity of a kung fu master, disturbing nothing.
In the clip below, from my 2000-2001 British TV series, Disinformation, you can actually see a little bit of the tiny, crowded, one room space where Paul Laffoley not only worked, but slept, for decades, his head down at his desk ala “Howard Roarke” in The Fountainhead. The reason you don’t see even more is that we had a shot with a depth of about 4 feet, I was practically sitting on Paul’s lap for the interview.
There is an extensive online catalog of The Boston Visionary Cell exhibit in PDF format that you can download here. You can also buy posters of Paul Laffoley’s work, including the image above (“Thanaton III, not in the NYC, but will be in the London show at the Hayworth Gallery later in the year) at the Kent Fine Art website.
KENT FINE ART, 210 Eleventh Avenue, Second Floor, NYC (212) 365-9500
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Paul Laffoley: Ambitious retrospective of visionary artist opens tomorrow night in NYC