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Michael Malpass

  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Yonkers, NY
  • Birth Date b. 1946
  • Death Date d. 1991
1. © photographer

Malpass studied fine art at Pratt Institute, where he developed an interest in sculpture and was Influenced by the work of Theodore Roszak, Arnoldo Pomodoro and Alberto Giacometti.
While working on his MFA at Pratt, Michael was inducted into the U.S. Army to serve his country during the Vietnam War. Stationed in Berlin, and not having access to art materials, he improvised by stretching old Army tents into canvasses and created oil paintings of artists, musicians and other notables from the era, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon.
Upon completion of his tour of duty in Berlin he returned to Pratt as an Instructor of Welding & Forge while simultaneously finishing up his MFA. His career commenced in 1977 when he had his first solo exhibition at The Betty Parsons Gallery in Manhattan. Meeting, knowing and gaining appreciation of Betty and her insights into the many aspects of the art world and their relative importance was indeed a landmark in his career. Just two years later Michael found his work prominently featured on the cover of the March 1979 issue of ARTnews.
Malpass primarily explored the sphere using found metal objects. He would often say, “The sphere is the most perfect form. It is efficient, for example, with the most volume for the least surface area.”
Applying traditional blacksmithing techniques he literally manipulated tons of steel. The industrial shapes are composed of iron, steel, brass, bronze and copper that were forged into an arc and welded together to form the sphere. Ultimately they were ground and polished, wire brushed or painted.
Meanwhile his career continued to flourish. Throughout the 1980s, Malpass produced hundreds of sculptures that simultaneously challenged and adhered to classical aesthetic standards. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats specifically throughout a body of work he affectionately called “Chickenmen”. These particular sculptures were reviewed in ARTnews in May 1984. Throughout the decade he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his sculpture, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions – including those from General Electric, Trammel Crow Company, Benenson Development Corporation and TRW. The year before his death in 1991 Malpass was working simultaneously on four different commissions from The State of New Jersey, The State of Connecticut, Exxon/Mobil and The Hechinger Collection.
His vast, stimulating and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most respected sculptors of the twentieth century. Today Michael Malpass’ work can be found in major museums and collections around the world.

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