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Ronald Mallory (1939-)

kinetic mercury picture

metal, glass, mercury, wall pivot




Ronald Mallory created his first kinetic mercury pictures in 1965 after buying a small vial of mercury on Canal Street in New York. Mallory, who had studied architecture in Florida and worked in Rio de Janeiro for Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx, was pouring paint on canvas and looking for a new direction. He admired artists using that process, such as Morris Louis and Paul Jenkins. Already he had started to pour polyurethane into boxes backed with light to create depth in his work. Burle Marx had suggested he abandon architecture to concentrate on art, a recommendation he followed by moving to Paris in the 1950s. He lived in the French capital for about seven years before returning to New York. He studied at the Académie Julian. Mallory sold his work well in Paris and landed exhibitions, including one at Galerie Iris Clert in 1961. Mallory’s first exhibition of mercury pictures was a one-man show in 1966 at Stable Gallery, which Eleanor Ward opened in 1953 after working as an aide in Paris for fashion designer Christian Dior. Until the last day of his show Mallory had yet to sell a work. Then in walked Alfred Barr, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, with the director of the Whitney and San Francisco Modern Art museums. Each purchased works for their museum’s collections. Mallory went on to participate in numerous museum and gallery shows through the 1960s and 1970s, including exhibitions at MoMA and the Whitney and galleries including Stable, Bonino (where he moved in 1969), Esther-Robles Gallery in Los Angeles and Arturo Schwarz in Milan. He participated in such landmark shows as Light in Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1966 and Kinetics at the Hayward Gallery in London in 1970. By the end of the 1970s, Mallory re-focused on painting with a series of figurative cityscape canvases, including a large-scale commission for the World Trade Center, sadly destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.


Museum of Modern Art, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California Smithsonian Institute (Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, NY) Israel Museum, Israel
Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art
Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
La Jolla Museum of Modern Art, California
University of Arizona Art Museum, Tucson, Arizona
Atlantic Ridgefield Collection, Los Angeles, California
Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut
San Jose Museum of Modern Art, San Jose, California University Museum, Berkeley, California
Oakland Museum of Modern Art, Oakland, California Anderson Foundation, Atherton, California
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, Massachusetts
Lowe Art Museum, Miami, Florida
San Diego Museum of Modern Art, San Diego, California
Bos van Tytsjerk, Netherlands
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas
The De Saiseet Museum, Santa Clara, California
Museum of Geometric and MADI Art, Dallas, Texas


1960 Galerie Claude Volney, Paris
1961 Galerie Iris Clert, Paris
1966, 1967, 1968 Stable Gallery, New York
1968 Esther-Robles Gallery, Los Angeles
1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1981 Galeria Bonino, New York

download the

catalogue of Mallory

exhibition in pdf