Pythia

(1966) 11'-0" x 4'-9 3/4" x 4'-6 1/4"
Medium: plywood, fiberglass, epoxy, and painted steel
On permanent exhibition in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection, Albany, NY.

Pythia-2Pythia, is Mallary’s most ambitious project since The Cliffhangers. He ‘worked on it during most of 1966 while completing the bronzes to be shown at the Allan Stone Gallery in October of that year. In this work Mallary confronts the situation in sculpture resulting from the decline of Abstract Expressionism, assemblage, and junk art. He believes that the contemporary artist, if he is to remain creatively alive in a fast-changing scene, must face up to the trends and movements as they come along, but submit to their influence only when something truly relevant to his history, values, or durable interests as an artist is involved. The primary form at the top of Pythia might at first seem to suggest an accommodation to minimal art, but according to Mallary it should be understood as a single, though climactic, unit within the larger context of a “post-assemblage disparity mix.” He was also concerned with the problematic role of the pedestal in modern sculpture, his decision in this case having been to use the base in counterpoint with the form at the top rather than dispense with it. He contends that the work should also be understood as “presentational” in the sense that the welded substructure both sustains and “presents” the minimal form at the top. The substructure has “work to do” (which it pointedly does not do with any great degree of engineering efficiency), even while it is the occasion for a Neo-Cubist interplay of rods and rectilinear surfaces.