Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Untitled module metric sculpture | Abe Ajay | United States | 1968

Abraham Ajay was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania in 1919 to Syrian immigrant parents. In 1937 he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League and the American Artists School in Manhattan.  He was hired as an artist by the Work Projects Administration during the Depression.  In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Ajay became close friends with Ad Reinhardt, the art director for the left-wing culture magazine New Masses.

In the 1960s, Ajay began to produce reliefs made of found objects. He had his first one-man show at the Rose Fried Gallery in Manhattan in 1964. Later his constructions, often intricate in design, were created from tooled wood, gypsum and cast plastics. He was a professor of visual arts at State University College at Purchase, N.Y. from 1978 until his health began deteriorating towards the mid to late 1990s.  A 25-year retrospective was held at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1990. Following a move back to Bethel, Pennsylvania, Ajay died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1998 at the age of 78.

Abe Ajay artist at work

Abe Ajay.  A Portrait of an Artist at Work.  (1990) Image source:  GMPFilms.com.  The film provides an intimate visit with the articulate and meticulous artist, Abe Ajay, in his Connecticut studio. Ajay explores the importance of his family and youth, recounts his student days in New York, and examines the role of the Federal Arts Project in American art. Manipulating arrangements, testing relationships, he discusses the importance of his craft as well as philosophy.  Arts Magazine said of Ajay, “He may easily be a master engineer, architect, carpenter and poet, all rolled into one.”

Ajay’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.

This modernist sculpture by Abe Ajay is one of a series of relief sculptures. These constructions or assemblages of geometric forms and symbols brought him acclaim in the 1960s.Abe Ajay Module Metric plastic sculptureAbe Ajay Module Metric plastic sculpture detail

A white sculpture in a wooden box, with transparent yellow, clear, turquoise, and green plastic panels covering.  The approximate dimensions of the sculpture are 5-3/8” height by 9-5/8" width by 2-7/8" depth.Abe Ajay Module Metric plastic sculpture back

Reverse side of the sculpture.

Abe Ajay Module Metric plastic sculpture label

Close up of the signature label.  Marked:

untitled module/metric
244/300 december 68

eBay item 201294914237 sold Buy It Now for $475.00 plus shipping on March 1, 2015.


Cotter, H. (1998, March 14). Abe Ajay, 78, Artist of Relief; Known for Boxlike Constructions. The New York Times.

Abe Ajay. Retrieved March 16, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Ajay

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