The Boston Visionary Cell

Paul Laffoley Obituary

(b. Cambridge, August 14, 1935 – d. Boston, November 16, 2015)


The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, had died after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), the Nationalgalerie/Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin (2011), and the Hayward Gallery, London, the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and the Yerba Buena Center in 2013. The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999). Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.


If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .

— Henry David Thoreau

Paul Laffoley on Visionary Art from Kent Fine Art on Vimeo.

Interview with Jean-Pierre Larroque, © 2004


The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell

Published by the University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Edited and with an Introduction by Douglas Walla
336 pages | 118 color plates, 15 halftones | 11 x 11 | © 2016
Paul Laffoley, a trained architect who once worked for Frederick Kiesler and Andy Warhol, has in recent years emerged as one of the leading visionary artists of our time. Lavishly illustrated, The Essential Paul Laffoley documents the evolution of his unique intellectual, spiritual, and artistic approaches.Living and working in a tiny space in Boston he calls the “Boston Visionary Cell,” Laffoley is best known for his large mandala-like paintings filled with symbols and texts. Their titles range from the paranormal and arcane, such as The Ectoplasmic Man and The Sexuality of Robots, to the organic, as with Das Urpflanze Haus, to the erudite, including De Rerum Natura, a reference to the Roman poet Lucretius. Whether focused on working with plants to create living architecture or centered on the process of alchemy, these detailed and brilliantly colored works reflect Laffoley’s utopian hopes and transdisciplinary interests: throughout, he aims to unite the boundless freedom of human imagination with the mathematical precision of the physical world.Nearly one hundred of Laffoley’s works are showcased here along with his accompanying “thought-forms,” texts specific to each painting that comment on its particular content. Together with an introduction by editor and gallerist Douglas Walla, a biography by fellow artist Steven Moskowitz, and essays by scholars Linda Dalrymple Henderson and Arielle Saiber, this book is a long-awaited celebration of the theories, writings, and artworks of an extraordinary mind.