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Real Genius: The Paul Laffoley Archive launches with scans of 120 of his handwritten cosmic journals
11.16.2016
04:45 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Douglas Walla


 
For many of us, 2016 has been an especially shitty year, an annus horribilis of epically epic proportions that began with the death of David Bowie (an especially low note for humanity, I think we can all agree on that) and went straight downhill from there, picking up speed before going SPLAT! like an egg on the sidewalk last week. My own personal year of unmitigated Hell had started a few weeks earlier, a year ago today in fact—November 16, 2015—when my good friend, the genius painter, architect and futurist inventor Paul Laffoley died at the age of 75.

Like many of Paul Laffoley’s friends and admirers, I was at least gratified to know that he’d died deeply satisfied with his life’s work, and the acclaim his visionary art had seen in recent years from major museums around the world, the result of tireless and heroic efforts on the part of his longtime gallerist Douglas Walla of Kent Fine Art in New York City. In May of this year, upon publication of the University of Chicago Press book The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, I asked Doug if he’d found anything interesting when he was in Boston sorting through Paul’s belongings after his death:

He had always told me stories about time spent constructing violins. I was amazed to find one of his violins on a top shelf.  AND, perhaps most importantly, strewn amongst hundreds of boxes of bills and junk mail, I found about FIFTY handwritten journals of profound significance. I had been asking Paul for his journals for 20 years, and he had only found and gave to me about 6 or 7, five of which I gave to the Henry Art Gallery for publication in their book Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque.  I had no idea there were FIFTY journals along with voluminous notes and correspondence.  None were filed, or carefully segregated. They were just scattered among the vast piles of paper.

 

 
Turns out there were even more than that. These journals are now being made available to the public—starting today—via a newly launched website The Paul Laffoley Archive:

On the first anniversary of the death of Paul Laffoley, the Boston visionary artist and luminary, we have assembled and are launching today a second website documenting his written texts and journals. After Paul’s death, we discovered over 120 handwritten journals on Visionary Art,  Meta Energy, Dante, Dimensionality, Death-Life, Time Travel, and his naming of the Bauharoque period of history we are now experiencing. Not only was Laffoley a unique and dedicated artist, I believe he was an intellectual of great depth and curiosity. We hope that we have done Laffoley’s legacy justice by making his writings available to the public.

I’ve seen several of Paul’s handwritten (and nearly all of these were written out in longhand) essays in the past (one of the pieces posted on the new website was originally written for my Book of Lies occult anthology in 2003) and to have access now to ALL of his writing, I felt positively giddy clicking around it this morning. It’s a treasure trove of strange, challenging and mind-tickling ideas. You can crash land into any of these journals and be absolutely astounded by his dazzlingly erudite, cosmic, occult and scientific ideas. There are essays about the Symbolist movement; his plans for a working time machine; his ideas on the principles of Alchemy and much more. Most of the essays are presented as scans of his carefully formed and highly distinctive handwriting in PDF format.

Buy The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell on Amazon.
 

 
More after the jump…

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‘The Essential Paul Laffoley’ is the most mind-boggling coffee table art book of 2016 (or any year)
05.23.2016
04:12 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Douglas Walla


 
Okay, okay so although I could probably definitely be accused of bias—the volume in question here is about a dear friend of nearly twenty years and edited by another close friend of exactly the same vintage (plus I blurbed it)—I strongly feel that the recent University of Chicago Press book The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell edited by Douglas Walla is a “document of seismic cultural importance.” I’m quoting myself here, but fuck it: I’m right.

When Paul Laffoley died last November at the age of 80, he left behind a vast archive of mind-boggling, awe-inspiring work. Huge paintings, elaborate drawings, models, handwritten journals, architectural blueprints, sci-fi inventions, essays. He was one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, although few people are aware of this fact. An eccentric genius to be sure, but a true Mount Olympus-level genius is what he was, make no mistake about it. This isn’t merely my opinion, it’s more a matter of objective fact. In due course—and I’m certain of this—the rest of the world is going to figure it out, too. I say this in all seriousness: The man was the Leonardo of our time. History will bear my bold statement out. (If you disagree, you just don’t know what you are talking about. See what I did there?)

But don’t worry, in the coming years the human race is going to figure this all out—of this I have complete confidence—and The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell will be the cornerstone of all future academic scholarship about the man, it’s both “Paul Laffoley 101” and the graduate level course in one volume. It was put together—a product of pure love and admiration—by the world’s #1 undisputed authority on the great artist’s work. Over the course of the past three decades, Paul Laffoley has been represented by Douglas Walla at Kent Fine Art in New York City. In a career going back to the 1970s, Walla has worked with artists like Francis Bacon, Richard Artschwager, Dorothea Tanning and Llyn Foulkes. He’s brokered deals for Giacometti’s, Picabia’s, Richter’s, Duchamp’s and even a few Rodins. In the cutthroat business of the New York art world, you couldn’t find a finer man than Doug.

The world isn’t always kind to the type of eccentric individual that Paul Laffoley was. History will record how very lucky he was to have met Douglas Walla when he did because otherwise he might have died in obscurity, instead of seeing vast museum-level surveys of his work mounted in London, Berlin and Paris during the final years of his life.

I sent Douglas Walla a few questions via email over the weekend and he sent them back to me this morning

Richard Metzger: How long did it take to prepare the book? 

Douglas Walla: The short answer is 27 years.

When I made the first studio visit to Paul’s Bromfield Street studio—the Boston Visionary Cell—in 1986, he was already working on Thanaton III. The lettering as such was not yet added, but it was certainly well underway.  I arrived at 10 am, and Paul immediately launched into a major—and almost trance-inducing—meditation on the manifestations of the painting. The next thing I knew, it was 2:00 pm, and thinking I had a plane to catch back to NYC at 6, I said, “How about that other painting?”  He simply said, “I’m not done yet” (meaning he wasn’t done with his explication of Thanaton III). So flying home, I thought, I need to do a book.  As a postscript, Thanaton III appears in the book published in 1989, but the lettering still had not yet been added.

I returned with a tape recorder, and I recorded “The Dream as the Initiation” which became chapter one of The Phenomenology of Revelation.  In all, between Paul, myself, and Jeanne Marie Wasilik, we recorded about 25 hours of dialogue with Paul, and that was edited down to eight chapters that would become the first book on Paul for which I acted as photo editor vetting the subjects touched upon, and Tony Morgan took a free hand in designing the final publication.

In the process, I developed a template we called a “thought form,” believing that the understanding of each individual work would be enhanced by a linguistic text plate to help the viewer more easily see what Paul was thinking. A complicated caption.

After the book was finished, I continued to work with Paul over the next twenty years compiling a thought form for each work we discussed.  So the archive progressed, and we paid particular attention getting good photography for each work, in that there was mounting interest in READING the paintings as they appeared in reproduction.

Paul and I collaborated for over 25 years building this archive, with the hopes of printing (analog) a catalogue raisonne of his work, and not placing it on the internet. I had the misfortune of posting 80 entries several years ago only to have it all copied, posted to another website unknown to me, and having the carefully edited texts violated and changed, and having his work reduced to collage, snippets, montages, wallpaper, etc.  So a book stands as a valid authority on the topic of Paul’s work without alterations by others.
 

 
Richard Metzger: How many additional paintings and drawings didn’t make the cut?

Douglas Walla: In that Paul never kept records of what he finished, when presented with the invitation by the University of Chicago Press to publish a monograph on Paul, I realized that a “Complete Works” book was almost impossible. There would always be other works coming to the surface, although I would state that only about 10 such works have come to my attention in the last decade. The format that was workable, conceptually as well as intellectually, was The Essential Paul Laffoley chronicling 100 works. 

What was left out were many of what Paul termed “nudes,” which were paintings without text. Further, there were commissioned works such as Hank Williams, and the Elvis series which do not appear, and many of the architectural three dimensional models he made which were in disrepair.  There was also Rubaiyat (75 sketches) that I only became aware of after death, and his uncompleted tarot deck which he worked on to the end, along with what would have been a major work entitled The Garden of Earthly Death.  There were ten large scale canvases unfinished at his death, and approximately 27 paintings that were unsigned, untitled, undated and never shown, all of which are omitted from the publication.
 

 
Richard Metzger: How would you describe your relationship with Paul? Obviously you were his gallerist and representative for decades, his close friend, his patron and #1 fan—you not only told the world about him, you actually invested a lot of money in his career, publishing his book when he was a complete unknown and so he that wouldn’t have to work and could produce more work. I’ve never said this to you before, but I always saw you as being the father figure in the relationship. Despite Paul being many years older than you, there was something childlike about him. The way you looked after him always seemed very paternal to me, but I want to hear your take on it.

Douglas Walla: The thing we all learned about Paul was his extreme generosity in terms of patience, good humor, and intimidating intellect.  Always pushing the outside of the envelope so to speak, I was endlessly challenged and stimulated by our association. He was a friend, and a pleasure, and gracious.  As his physical health began to deteriorate (and I think I was in denial that he was on a path to his final congestive heart failure), I became his travelmate certainly by 2009. When he injured himself in 2001—he fell off a ladder—I became his medical proxy sorting through extremely complicated medical issues concerning his diabetes and the impact it had in devastating his cardiovascular system.  Of course one of his legs was amputated. So by 2009, I tried to get him to all the things he longed to see and visit including Neuschwanstein, Dornach, Eiffel’s Apartment at the top of the Tower, the Space Needle—his bucket list. 

The only thing on that list he never saw was the completed book.
 

 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Visionary artist and genius Paul Laffoley has died
11.16.2015
07:03 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
R.I.P.
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .  “

Henry David Thoreau

I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.

The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.

I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.

I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”
 

 
Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.

The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).

Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.
 

 
I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

Too true. And now he’s gone.
 

 
An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…
 

 
More after the jump…

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Paul Laffoley: Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier
09.08.2015
03:27 pm

Topics:
Art
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Douglas Walla


 
For those of you lucky to be in NYC this month, there’s an especially exciting new Paul Laffoley exhibit opening at Kent Fine Art (210 Eleventh Ave between 24th and 25th) in Chelsea.

“The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience” will provide a rare glimpse at some of Laffoley’s seldom-seen models and sculptures, as well as some early work from the 1960s and a few key paintings not exhibited in recent years. The artist will be present at the gallery on September 10, 11, and 12th.

An online publication for the show was edited by Douglas Walla with detailed notes from Paul Laffoley on each piece. I wrote the intro, which follows. If you would like to look at the entire full-color 132 page PDF catalog, it can be downloaded here.
 

 
Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier

How does one approach the work of Paul Laffoley?  It’s not really like anything else and doesn’t fit neatly into any easy category that the art world routinely employs.  How do you even begin to wrap your head around the vastness of his cosmic vision?

He’s not merely a painter whose work sells for six figures and has been exhibited internationally at some of the world’s best and most forward-­thinking museums, or the subject of several books, TV segments, newspaper and magazine articles. He’s also a Harvard-­trained architect who has dreamt up living buildings grown from seeds and a bridge connecting the Moon and the Earth. A philosopher. An alchemist. A science fiction-style inventor of a time machine. He speaks Latin, Greek, French, German and several other languages. Laffoley majored in the classics as an undergrad at Brown and is an expert on the most cutting­ edge and far­ out worlds of scientific discovery. I think he’s one of the great living geniuses of our time and I know that I’m not alone in that assessment.

Paul once detailed an erudite impromptu dinnertime dissertation on modern engineering by informing me that each and every futuristic invention anticipated by Jules Verne had been realized (submarines, rocket ships, space travel, etc) and that science fiction really stopped being “prophetic” around the mid 20th­century, with anything a science fiction writer could dream up eventually getting “invented” and put into mass production by a large corporation. (“How closely did the communicators on Star Trek anticipate the flip phone?” he asked.) Scoff if you will at his schematic for a gigantic genetically engineered ectoplasmic jellyfish that allows for communication with not only the dead, but the yet­-to-be­-born (for the purpose of intergenerational planning which would avert catastrophes), Leonardo’s cronies probably laughed at that crazy thing he sketched out back in the day that resembles our modern-­day helicopters. It’s all relative.

Once I described Paul in print as a Bodhisattva reincarnated in the form of a mild-mannered sci­ fi-­loving Boston architect, but years later (although I still see some value in my earlier call) I’d rather ask the reader to imagine what Buckminster Fuller would have done if he were a fine artist in addition to all that other cool stuff he got up to.
 

THE PSYCHOKENETIC WATER BALANCE: A DEVICE FOR TESTING PSYCHOKENESIS, 1980. Homage to: Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] and Robert Hare [1781 – 1858]. Oil, acrylic, wood, wire mesh, string, shells and water. Fully hand carved, unique, 18 ½ x 35 x 17 1/2 in. 47 x 89 x 44.5 cm.
 
This is my favorite Paul Laffoley story and I think it’s particularly revealing about the way his beautiful mind works:

It was late February of 2000. I arrived home at my West Village apartment one evening to find a package waiting for me from Paul containing a most peculiar object, by name, “The Anti­kitschkitron” a “device for penetrating the kitsch barrier.” It was a small box, hand­made, black-­painted wood save for the top, which was a clear plastic sheet with a plastic bubble that read “TIME DILATION” in the Helvetica press type Laffoley is known for using. Inside were all sorts of light­-emitting diodes, circuitry, electronic capacitors and exposed wiring—­­in other words, the machine’s guts were plainly visible­­ and a coil of copper wire coming out the top with a circular sun-­like ornament affixed to it like exposed bicycle tire spokes. It seemed like something that might transmit a “beam” of an electronic or cosmic nature.

The device, which resembled some sort of curious text­-covered mutant dowsing machine, or a Star Trek version of one of Joseph Cornell’s boxes crossed with a metal detector. On the top was a big red clunky on/off switch.

Thrilled by this incredible gift, I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Paul in Boston. The ritual when calling him is that he screens all of his calls. The voice on the outgoing message is not Paul’s, and the caller is informed that he or she have reached the Boston Visionary Cell and to please leave a message after the beep—a drill developed when avoiding credit card collection agencies as he once humorously admitted to me. I started to leave a message, Paul picked up right away and I started gushing my gratitude about the amazingly weird—and absolutely beautiful—object/device that I was holding in my hand. What a thrillingly strange thing to get in the mail, I’m sure you’ll agree, but at this point I noticed that there was no obvious power source.

“Where do you put the battery?” I innocently inquired.

“Oh, there’s no battery,” he said with his strong, slightly stuttering Bostonian accent. “You know my concept of the… a… the uh.. luxe theater of the mind? Well it’s like that. You have to interact with the device and connect the circuitry to your mind, um, uh, in that way.”

I paused for a moment before mentally recalibrating and moving myself as much as possible into Paul’s philosophical framework before (I thought) redeeming myself with “Okay, so it’s like like Yoko Ono’s “Box of Smile” where you open it up, you see that there is a mirror inside and invariably everyone who interacts with the piece smiles, right?”

“Well, yes…” he said slowly, indicating a “yes” that was about to be uniquely qualified, “...but with my device, you have to actually turn it on.”
 

 
The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, an oversized, comprehensive, annotated catalogue raisonné edited by Laffoley’s longtime friend and gallerist Douglas Walla, with several essays by the artist and others, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2016. I have a B&W print-out of the book and it’s one of the most exciting and stunning art books I’ve ever seen. Mark my words, it’ll be a cultural event when this book comes out. It’s TIME for it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Physically Alive Architecture of Paul Laffoley
08.12.2014
12:00 pm

Topics:
Advertorial

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 
The work of Boston-based visionary artist and architect Paul Laffoley has been exhibited extensively in recent years including major museum shows in London, Paris, Berlin and Seattle. His oeuvre is informed by fringe science, a degree in architecture from Harvard and the occult. In 2009 Laffoley was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Creative Arts.  Next year an extensive catalogue raisonné of his art is set to be published.

Paul Laffoley’s work can be categorized into several different strands: His architectural pieces which are comparable to schematics or blueprints; his inventions of apparently far out sci-fi devices (keep in mind that every single thing Jules Verne dreamed up eventually came to pass); his plans for a working time machine and for a “living” plant house that would be grown from a single seed.

The artist claims that his “Das Urpflanze Haus” will help solve the worldwide housing crisis.
 

 
How did the idea of physically alive architecture first occur to you?

I don’t… I don’t recall… (pauses) I was thinking of how to make a link all the way from Earth to the Moon and I realized that it would have to be something which was self-repairing. Something like that would always be getting hit by asteroids and space debris, so only something alive could self-repair if you were gonna do that. Fixing it would just be too impractical.

Vegetation connects to itself and grafts to its own kind. That’s how vegetables survive, by sending out rhizomes in times of danger and becoming a single plant. The German poet Goethe was fascinated by the idea that there existed an ur-plant that could connect, or graft, all of the plants on Earth together as one big worldwide plant, but he never found it. The name “Das Urpflanze Haus” is a tribute to him. But the primordial plant, something that’s been around since the Jurassic period, is Gingko Biloba—kept alive by monks in their gardens—which has DNA common to every plant living today. The link to the Moon would be constructed from shapes like Buckminster Fuller’s spheres, but they would have to be alive, to be plants. They would have to be grafted together. There would, of course, also have to be a water source.

And then I started thinking that if something like that is going to be built to go to the moon, what could we do on Earth, and that’s where the idea came from. You might use bamboo in some parts of the home, for tensile strength—think of the plants as building materials—and a different kind of plant to thatch the roof, but they would all be joined—grafted together—and have a common root system. After you would make the first vegetable house, it would go to seed and then you could grow more.

Didn’t you run this concept past Buckminster Fuller himself at some point? What was his reaction?

Yes (laughs). It was 1980 and I was a member of the World Future Society. We went to Florence and I did a presentation on this that got absolutely no reaction. I couldn’t sleep and I went down to the hotel lobby and there was Fuller, who couldn’t sleep either and so I presented him with my idea to build a link to the Moon and I asked “Don’t you think this should be a living creature and not a mechanical model?” and he agreed, but eventually I must’ve cured his insomnia because he fell asleep right there in the lobby. The next day he avoided me like the plague!

More after the jump…

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Thanaton III: The mysterious ‘living painting’ of Paul Laffoley
06.25.2013
01:12 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in London this summer, there’s still plenty of time to catch “The Alternative Guide to the Universe” exhibit at the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. The exhibit, which was curated by Ralph Rugoff, runs through August 26 and features several key paintings by visionary artist Paul Laffoley, including the piece generally considered to be his signature work, Thanaton III.

Laffoley’s unusual artforms can be categorized in several different ways: His architectural works which are comparable to schematics or blueprints; his inventions of seemingly far out sci-fi devices (keep in mind that everything Jules Verne dreamed up eventually came to pass); his plans for a working time machine and a house that can be grown from a single seed. The subset of his work that seems to baffle critics the most are the Boston-based artist’s mysterious and awe-inspiring “operating systems.”

Laffoley’s operating systems are paintings (and some other types of work on occasion) that are meant to be interacted with in the “theater of the mind,” as the artist puts it. Some are like meditation or yoga devices, something you would stare it or “breathe in.” One operating system instructs the viewer of the painting to touch it on handpads (as above) and pitch their consciousness into a kite allowing for astral travel.

With 1989’s Thanton III however, there is something going on that’s a little bit different, because it’s a painting that’s actually alive in a certain way, but’ll let Paul Laffoley explain it himself in the video.

This interview comes from my UK TV series, Disinformation and was conducted in 2000. Most of the time when this painting is hung in a museum, they have this video playing right beside it.

This isn’t the only television segment to be done solely concentrating on Thanton III, it was also singled out for appreciation in France by Otto on Monde5 during the big Laffoley exhibit at Palais du Toyko in 2009. [You’ll note that when a French person pronounces his surname, they are, in effect saying “Paul The Fool.” In the same sense that he last name Esposito (“the exposed ones”) indicates an ancestor who was orphaned, Laffoley would indicate genetic predecessors who were mentally ill or perhaps severely autistic. “La folies” = “the foolsish ones,” basically. This is something that Paul explained to me himself. Furthermore he is convinced that the “la folies” were the real-life artists’ models for the gargoyles on Chartres Cathedral, but that’s for another time…]
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Visionary artist Paul Laffoley: Sci-Fi Leonardo da Vinci
06.05.2013
05:34 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult
Science/Tech
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 
For our readers in London—and there are quite a lot of you, so don’t fuck this one up (and tell all your friends)—next Tuesday at the Southbank Centre’s Hayworth Gallery, visionary artist Paul Laffoley will be giving one of his mind-bending lectures accompanied by a slide show of dozens and dozens of his elaborate paintings and drawings.

Let me state this clearly, London-based DM readers: Next Tuesday, you will have the rare opportunity to meet one of the most fascinating people alive on the planet today. I truly believe that you will be stunned, I repeat, stunned, by what you’ll see there that evening. Paul Laffoley’s a Sci-Fi Leonardo da Vinci, a Bodhisattva reborn as a mild-mannered Harvard-trained architect/artist/inventor.

In short, the man is a dazzling genius and I’m reasonably sure that you, London-based reader, yes, I am talking to YOU, here, don’t have anything better to do that evening. In fact, I know that you don’t.
 

 
From the Southbank Centre’s website:

An opportunity to hear artist Paul Laffoley, whose practice has been defined as ‘the conversion of mysticism into mechanics’.

Paul Laffoley works with texts and images to create new ways of thinking about time and space, dream and mysticism, magic and consciousness. He has also designed a time machine and a prayer gun.

His appearance, to celebrate the opening of The Alternative Guide to the Universe, is a unique chance to hear someone The New York Times recently hailed as ‘one of the most unusual creative minds of our time’.

You hear that? It’s not just me, it’s The New York Times, too… Miss this at your own later regret, truly. The lecture begins at 6:30.

The Alternative Guide to the Universe is curated by Ralph Rugoff and will be exhibited from June 11th to August 26th at Southbank Centre’s Hayworth Gallery.

There’s another major Laffoley exhibit going on at The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. That show, Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque, opened in April and will continue through September 15, 2013.
 

 
Below, an interview that I conducted with Paul Laffoley about his work in 1999 for British television:
 

 
Thank you Douglas Walla of Kent Fine Art in NYC

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe’
02.06.2013
05:18 pm

Topics:
Art
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley

image
Paul Laffoley, “Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe” (detail) (1973), oil, acrylic, ink, and vinyl lettering on canvas, 73 1/2″ x 73 1/2″

The gents at Imperium Pictures have put together this terrific short film of artist Paul Laffoley discussing his 1973 painting “Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe” in New York recently.

Paul Laffoley: The Boston Visionary Cell” is at Kent Fine Art LLC (210 Eleventh Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan) and the show will be up through March 9th. It’s getting rave reviews from The New Yorker, Art Forum and The New York Times. You can download a PDF of the catalog here.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Paul Laffoley explains how to build a working time machine (and a house made entirely of plants)
01.18.2013
02:32 pm

Topics:
Art
Thinkers
Unorthodox

Tags:
Paul Laffoley

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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
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Paul Laffoley: Ambitious retrospective of visionary artist opens tomorrow night in NYC
01.03.2013
12:50 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Kent Fine Art

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Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe, 1973. Oil, acrylic, ink and vinyl lettering on canvas, 73 ½ x 73 ½ in.

If you live in NYC—or anywhere near the city—there’s going to be a unique event tomorrow night that many Dangerous Minds readers will probably want to attend, a rare “evening with the artist” that will open a new retrospective survey of Paul Laffoley’s artwork at the Kent Fine Art gallery in Chelsea. The talk will take place Friday, January 4th, 6 to 9 p.m.
 
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The Boston Visionary Cell, founded by Paul Laffoley in 1971, was based on the model of an artists’ guild. Although there have been numerous presentations of Laffoley’s work over the past decade, the Boston Visionary Cell has never been examined in the context of his life’s work. It is a crucial piece in understanding Laffoley’s methodology. As stated in its founding charter, it was created “to develop and advance visionary art”:

“We . . . believe that the evocation of the mystical experience by means of symbols, which has functioned as part of the intentioning process throughout the course of human history, is the intended direction of evolution that becomes most expressive through visual art during those periods in history that are characterized by rapid change, e.g., the twentieth century, which has seen a series of movements from the Modern era to the Post-Modern era, finally culminating in the Bauharoque era.”

Our current exhibition extrapolates on the mission of the Boston Visionary Cell as it has related to Laffoley’s production over the past forty years. An extensive online publication will accompany the exhibition.

That catalog in PDF format you can download here.

KENT FINE ART, 210 Eleventh Avenue, Second Floor, NYC (212) 365-9500
 
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Xanatopia, 1995. Ink, gouache, vinyl lettering, and collage on board, 30 x 30 in.
 
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Anthe Hieronymus Box Two, 1999-2003. Serigraph inks, aluminum, gold and copper wire, mahogany, blood, glass. No. 5 from and edition of 6, 25 x 25 x 3 in.
 

Below, in this extended clip from the Laffoley’s Odyssey documentary, you can see inside The Boston Visionary Cell, the one-room office space where Paul Laffoley lived and worked for three decades.
 

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Paul Laffoley in Paris: Chasing Napoleon
11.18.2009
12:53 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Kent Gallery

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If you live or find yourself in Paris this holiday season, you must visit the first big Paris show of artist Paul Laffoley at the Palais de Tokyo through Jan 17, 2010. There is also a new Laffoley poster from the event and it’s amazing, I got mine in the mail yesterday. Proceeds from the poster sales are 100% dedicated to the costs of completing photography and printing of the Paul Laffoley Catalogue Raisonne currently being put together by Douglas Walla at Kent Gallery in New York. There is a lot of work so it’s a huge undertaking that will be spread across several volumes. I think it’s what’s needed before the public at large finally catches on about what a genius we have in our midst.

You can buy a Paul Laffoley poster here. Makes a great Christmas present!

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Paul Laffoley in Paris.


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The gallery at Palais de Tokyo.

 

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