A pioneer of installation art and innovative works on paper since the 1970’s, Judy Pfaff synthesizes sculpture, painting, and architecture into dynamic environments in which space seems to expand and collapse, fluctuating between the two- and three-dimensional. She weaves landscape, nature, architecture, and color into a tense yet organic whole. In her recent works on paper, Pfaff’s own hand is more visible than it has ever been before. This series of works are both painterly and exuberant, incorporating repurposed papers from the artist’s travels and encaustic employed to varying effects. Pfaff’s work is a complex ordering of visual information composed of steel, paper, fiberglass, and plaster as well as salvaged signage and natural elements such as tree roots. She has extended her interest in natural motifs in a series of prints integrating vegetation, maps, and medical illustrations, and has developed her dramatic sculptural materials into set designs for several theatrical stage productions.
Pfaff has received numerous prestigious awards, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; the National Endowment for the Arts Grant; the National Academy Award for Excellence in Sculpture, National Academy Museum and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center. In 2015 Pfaff was one of the first contemporary artists to complete a major installation at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA. Her other commissions include a full-scale set design for the American Symphony Orchestra, Fisher Center, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Her work is numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; Seonhwa Art and Culture Foundation, Seoul, Korea; Albright-Knox Gallery; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Detroit Institute of Art and The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.She has had major solo exhibitions at the Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY; Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia; Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Samuel Dorsky Musuem of Art, SUNY New Paltz, NY; Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. In Fall 2016 she had a career retrospective of works on/with paper at Wheaton College. Pfaff also represented the United States in the 1998 São Paolo Bienal. Judy Pfaff was born in London, England in 1946. She received an MFA from Yale University. She lives and works in Kingston and Tivoli, New York .