BIOGRAPHY

laffoley_circa1965-copy

Paul Laffoley (August 14, 1935 – November 16, 2015) was an American visionary artist and architect from Boston, Massachusetts, represented by Kent Fine Art in New York.


His Life

Laffoley was born on August 14, 1935 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to an Irish Catholic family. His father, Paul Laffoley, Sr., the president of the Cambridge Trust Company, was also a lawyer and taught classes at Harvard Business School. Early in life, Laffoley, Sr. also did on-stage performances as a medium. According to Laffoley, he attended the progressive Mary Lee Burbank School in Belmont, Massachusetts, where his draftsman’s talents were ridiculed by his abstract expressionist teachers. After attending Boston public schools for a short time, and following a period of home schooling with a Hindu tutor, Laffoley matriculated at Brown University, graduating in 1962 with honors in Classics, Philosophy, and Art History. Laffoley has written that, while at Brown for his undergraduate studies in 1961, he was given eight electroshock treatments after the termination of “about a year of weekly sessions with a psychiatrist, who had treated me for a mild state of catatonia.” Following Brown, Laffoley relocated to New York City to apprentice with the visionary Frederick Kiesler, and was recruited by Andy Warhol, who wanted someone to watch television for him at all hours of the night. Laffoley watched television in the pre-dawn hours, before programming had actually begun in exchange for a place to sleep in Warhol’s fire station. Upon the death of his father, Laffoley returned to Boston in 1963, he chose to attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he could expand on his tendency to think diagrammatically. Ultimately, Paul was “grand juried” out of the program for deviant ideas about the nature of architecture as it was practiced at Harvard.

For the period of 18 months while in Manhattan, Laffoley found paid employment with Emery Roth & Sons where he worked on the plans for the yet to be built World Trade Center Towers before being terminated upon his suggestion of bridges joining the two buildings. At that time, Laffoley had been painting in the basement of his family home in Belmont on the weekends, completing his first fully mature vision: The Kali-Yuga: The End of the Universe at 424826 A.D. From this point forward, Laffoley began to formulate his unique trans-disciplinary approach to a new discipline combining, philosophy, science, architecture and spirituality to the practice of painting. Laffoley first began to organize his ideas in a format related to eastern mandalas, partially inspired by the late night patterns he watched for Warhol on late night television. This quickly developed into four general subcategories of paintings: operating systems, psychotronic devices, meta-energy, time travel, and lucid dreaming. Conceived of as “structured singularities”, Laffoley never works in series, but rather approaches each project as a unique schematic. Working in a solitary lifestyle, each 73 ½ x 73 ½ inch canvas would take up to three years to paint and code.

Laffoley moved into his first studio at 38 Bromfield Street on Christmas Day in 1968. The location would soon become the not-for-profit organization named The Boston Visionary Cell in 1971. Along with a group of like-minded artists, he would spend a decade organizing numerous pop up thematic exhibitions open to participation by a wide range of artists from the Boston area. During this period, Laffoley would also merge his theoretical writings with a unique approach to mapping his ideas schematically through words and images.

By the late 1980s, Laffoley began to move from the spiritual to a view of his work as an interactive, physically engaging psychotronic device, a modern approach to trans-disciplinary enlightenment and its spiritual aura. From an early age, Laffoley manifested an obsessive interest in UFOs. He has seen the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still hundreds of times. He explained that his obsessive interest in the film derived partly from a fascination with the architecture of the space ship in the film as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. While he was still a child he made a vow to become an architect so that he could design flying saucers, although he did receive his license until he was 50 years of age.

After the Austin Museum of Art organized the first museum survey of his career in 1999, Mr. Laffoley became something of a cult figure for curators around the world. The Palais de Tokyo in Paris devoted an entire room to his work in its 2009 exhibition “Chasing Napoleon”, and several of his works were included in “The Alternative Guide to the Universe” at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2013. Other comprehensive exhibitions and publications were realized by the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin, as well as the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington.


Work

Painted on large canvases, the majority of Paul Laffoley’s paintings combine words and imagery to depict a spiritual architecture of explanation, tackling concepts like dimensionality, time travel through hacking relativity, connecting conceptual threads shared by philosophers through the millennia, and theories about the cosmic origins of mankind. By 2010, Laffoley thought he had executed approximately 250 works that were being documented by Douglas Walla. The archive includes “thought-forms” for each work as composed by the artist. This archive, and Laffoley’s writings, was subsequently published by the University of Chicago Press in a new book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley edited by Douglas Walla, with texts by Linda Dalywimple Henderson, Arielle Saiber and Steven Moskowitz. British writer Michael Bracewell, in his collection of essays entitled When Surface was Depth observed: “If Laffoley’s work within the Boston Visionary Cell can be said to have one principal preoccupation – a common denominator of his eclectic scholarship and practice – then that preoccupation would be to understand the process by which one goes from becoming to being.” Bracewell has also written that, “The Boston Visionary Cell, as a concretized manifestation of its inhabitant’s work and preoccupations, describes the way in which a chaos of data – no less than a chaos of marble – can be sculpted by research to release the perfect forms within it.”

In preparation for 28 years, the long awaited monograph, The Essential Paul Laffoley, was published by the University of Chicago Press in May 2016.

The Estate Paul Laffoley is represented by Kent Fine Art in New York.


Death

Laffoley died on November 16, 2015 in South Boston, Massachusetts, of congestive heart failure.


Exhibitions

2017

Spiritualized, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (forthcoming)

2015

The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience , Kent Fine Art, New York

2014

The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suit . Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

2013

Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque . Henry Art Gallery, Seattle Curated by Luis Croquer

The Boston Visionary Cell . Kent Fine Art, New York

2011

Secret Universe . Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gergenwart, Berlin. Curated by Udo Kittelmann and Claudia Dichter .

2009

Chasing Napoleon . Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Paul Laffoley . Ars Libri, Boston

The Sixties . Kent Gallery, New York

2008

The Sixties . Meta Gallery, Toronto

2007

Mind Physics . Kent Gallery, New York

2005

Time Phase X . Kent Gallery, New York

2004

Un Apéritif de l’absinthe: Hommage à Rimbaud . Kent Gallery, New York

The Gaudí New York Hotel for Ground Zero . Gallery 28, New England School of Art and

Design, Suffolk University, Boston

2001

Portaling . Kent Gallery, New York

1999

Architectonic Thought-Forms: A Survey of the Art of Paul Laffoley . Austin Museum of Art, Austin, TX

The Tree of Sephiroth and Other Drawings . Kent Gallery, New York

1998

Building the Bauharoque . Kent Gallery, New York

1995

The Real Elvis II . Jamaica Plain Firehouse Multicultural Arts Center, Boston

1994

All Elvis Art Show . Main Street Museum of Arts, White River Junction, VT

The Real Elvis . The Elvis Project, Boston

1993

Visionary Art: A Contemporary Survey . Newspeak Bookstore Gallery, Providence, RI

1989

Paul Laffoley: Structured Singularities , Kent Fine Art, New York

1985

Kingston Gallery, Boston

Stux Gallery, Boston

Paintings and Boxes,  Stux Gallery, New York

Nesto Gallery, Milton Academy, Milton, MA

Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York

Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA

1984

Kingston Gallery, Boston

1983

Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York

Kingston Gallery, Boston

1982

Tremont Tea Room, Boston

1981

Bromfield Gallery, Boston

Compton Gallery, Massachusetts Inst i tute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Wessel Library, Tufts University, Medford, MA

1979

Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York

Art Gallery, Fitchburg State College Gallery, Fitchburg, MA

Bromfield Gallery, Boston

1978

Bromfield Gallery, Boston

1977

Bromfield Gallery, Boston

Southern Connecticut State College Gallery, New Haven, CT

Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York

1975

Bromfield Gallery, Boston

Manteca Gallery, Boston

1974

Belmont-Hill Gallery, Belmont, MA

Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York

1973

Thirteen by Paul Laffoley,  Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME

1972

The New Jerusalem Project , Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Paul Laffoley: Painting , Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, NH

Brockton Art Museum, MA

1971

Bergman Gallery, University of Chicago

Commonwealth School , Boston

Playboy Club, Boston

1970

McClean Hospital, Belmont, MA

1969

Gallery 2, Boston

East-West Self-Exploration Cent e r , Boston

Orson Wells Cinema, Cambridge, MA

Paul Laffoley,  Cumbres Institute at Woodstock, Bethel, New York

Macivor-Reddie Gallery, Boston

1968-70

B o s t o n Tea Party, Boston

1967

Pluribus Gallery, Boston

1966

Club ’47, Cambridge, MA

Major works

  • The Kali-Yuga: the End of the Universe at 424826 A.D. (1965)
  • The Cosmos Falls into the Chaos as Shakti Urborosi: The Elimination of Value Systems by Spectrum Analysis (1965)
  • The World Self (1967)
  • I, Robur, Master of the World (1968)[16]
  • “The Visionary Point” (1970)
  • Utopia: Time Cast As A Voyage (1974)
  • Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe (1974)
  • Temporality: The Great Within of the Universe (1974)
  • Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (1974–1983)
  • Black-White Hole: the Force of the History of the Universe to Produce Total Non-Existence(1976)
  • The Renovation Mundi (1977)
  • Cosmolux (1981)
  • The Orgone Motor (1982)
  • Color Breathing (1983)
  • Thanaton III (1989)
  • Geochronmechane: The Time Machine from the Earth (1990)
  • It Came From Beneath Space: Lucid Dream Number 52 (1991)
  • The Solitron (1997)
  • Dimensionality: The Manifestation of Fate (1999)[17]
  • After Gaudi: A Grand Hotel for New York City (2002)
  • Pickman’s Mephitic Models (2004)
  • The Myth of the Zeit-Geist (2013)

Books and monographs

  • Laffoley, Paul, and Jeanne M. Wasilik. “The Phenomenology of Revelation”. New York: Kent Fine Art, 1989. ISBN 978-1878607058
  • Laffoley, P. (1999). Architectonic Thought Forms: a Survey of the Art of Paul Laffoley 1967-1999. Austin, TX: Austin Museum of Fine Art.
  • Paul Laffoley: Secret Universe. Walther König, Köln, 2012. ISBN 978-3863350888 (catalog)
  • Croquer, Luis. (2013) “Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque”. Seattle: Henry Art Gallery. ISBN 978-0-935558-52-4
  • Laffoley, Paul. (2016) “The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226315416

External links