Paul Laffoley: The Sixties

January 1 – February 29, 2009


In 2005, Paul Laffoley was served with an eviction notice from his studio premises of 38 years and the home of the Boston Visionary Cell. While the event was traumatic at the time, there were two positive developments that came about as a result of the forced relocation. First, he found a superior studio for the same rent AND the contents of the Cell could, for the first time, be fully inventoried and inspected for condition. Many of the works had been in storage at the Bromfield studio since Christmas, 1968 when Laffoley moved into a former utility room in downtown Boston. In the process of cleaning, restoring and photographing these early works for the upcoming catalogue raisonne, we realized it would be an excellent opportunity to finally present these works in an exhibition format.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we present 10 paintings by Paul Laffoley realized between the years of 1965 and 1969.

Following a formal education from Brown in the classics, and architectural studies at Harvard, Laffoley would begin to assimilate and systematically cross-pollinate his related strands of intellectual inquiry. In a search for expanded opportunities, Laffoley came to New York to work with the visionary Frederick Kiesler, and was recruited for viewing late night TV for Andy Warhol. Following a dismissal by Kiesler, Laffoley worked for 18 months on design for the World Trade Center Tower II (floors 15 to 45) with Emery Roth & Sons under the direction of architect Minoru Yamasaki. Following his suggestion that bridges be constructed between the two towers for safety, he was summarily fired by Yamasaki and returned to Boston. At that time, Laffoley had been painting in the basement of his family’s home completing what may be his first fully mature vision with The Cosmos Falls into the Chaos as Shakti Urborosi: the Elimination of Value Systems by Spectrum Analysis, 1965. From this point forward, Laffoley began to formulate his unique painterly and informational approach to the two-dimensional surface.

Clearly devoting himself to painting by the mid sixties, he began a highly original approach based on extensive hand written journals documenting his research, diagrams, and footnoted predecessors to various theoretical developments. Laffoley first began to organize his ideas in a format related to eastern mandalas that embraced his interests in the spiritual. This quickly developed into three sub-groupings of work: Operating Systems, Psychotronic Devices, and their related Lucid Dreams. Conceived of as “structured singularities”, Laffoley never worked in series, but rather approached each project as a unique construct. Working in a solitary lifestyle, each 73 ½ x 73 ½ inch canvas would take one to three years to paint and code. By the late 1980’s, Laffoley began to move from the spiritual and the intellectual, and evolved to the view of his work as an interactive, physically engaging Psychotronic devices, a modern approach to trans-disciplinary enlightenment and its spiritual aura.