Robert Mallary American, 1917-1997


In the early 1960's Mallary (b. 1917 Toledo - d. 1997 Northampton, United States) was a prominent member of the Neo-Dada or Junk art movement, following on the heels of Abstract Expressionism along with American artists such as John Chamberlain, Richard Stankiewicz and Claes Oldenburg.


Mallary developed a unique and experimental style capturing fragile found urban detritus - discarded pieces of cardboard, wood, cloth rags, and later, Tuxedos, casting them in resin to become hard and permanent.


Experimenting as early as the 1930s with plastics, he began in the mid 1950s making reliefs of sand and straw mixed with polyester resin. The dark and moody reliefs alluded to the region’s landscape and as with most of his oeuvre had undercurrents of doom, both in the imagery and in the titles sourced from classical mythology, political and philosophical ideas. After discovering the health risks of resin he became interested in the computer's potential as an artistic tool. In 1968, he exhibited in London a work that is considered one of the first computer-designed sculptures. From 1967 until his retirement Mallary taught art at the University of Massachusetts.


In 1959 Mallary was included in two Museum of Modern Art exhibitions; Sculpture U.S.A. and Sixteen Americans, followed by a 1960 Guggenheim International Award and exhibition, and the Museum of Modern Art's 1961 Art of Assemblage exhibition. By 1968, Mallary was also included in five annuals at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the VII Biennial de Sao Paolo, the Seattle and New York World’s Fairs, and had a retrospective at SUNY Potsdam. A recent group exhibition was the ground breaking show at the LACMA, Los Angeles: Destroy the picture: painting the void, 1949-1962 in 2013.