New York

View of “Robert Mallary,” 2019. Foreground: title unknown, 1962. Background from left: title unknown, 1962; Descent, 1955.

View of “Robert Mallary,” 2019. Foreground: title unknown, 1962. Background from left: title unknown, 1962; Descent, 1955.

Robert Mallary

Mitchell Algus Gallery

Renown arrived swiftly to Robert Mallary, then bolted. The Museum of Modern Art in New York featured him in 1961’s “The Art of Assemblage,” then went on to show his junk works in two more group exhibitions that decade. In 1962, the New York World’s Fair commissioned The Cliffhangers, 1963–64, one of his breakthrough tuxedo sculptures: doomy, vaudevillian tableaux featuring suits gleaned from trash heaps, then infused with toxic polyester resin and, before stiffening, torqued into precariously baroque sideshows. Yet by the late ’60s he had pivoted—in part due to the resin’s deleterious health effects—to cybernetic art, a field he advanced as a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, until 1996, when he retired, just a year before his death. While prescient and intriguing procedurally, his computer-generated pieces have none of the political gravity of his earlier output, and

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