Skip to Content
Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© Albert Paley
American, born 1944
Double Fibula Brooch
Gold, silver, bronze, pearls, moonstone, and Madagascar labradorite

2 ¼ x 5 ¾ x 5 3/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Mecom, Jr., by exchange

Arts of North America

Albert Paley is one of the world’s foremost metalworkers, with a career spanning more than four decades. Paley made jewelry for an incredibly prolific 10 years, during which he set new standards for American jewelry with his large-scale, humanistic, technically superior, and ornamental works designed to work with the body, not merely to decorate it.

Paley began first casting, then chasing, gold and silver—his preferred materials. Soon he was using forging techniques, which allowed him to achieve an aesthetic best described as Abstract Lyricism, with flowing curves and otherworldly nature reminiscent of Art Nouveau (but not based on the style) and with technique linked to the spontaneous working methods of the Abstract Expressionists. For Double Fibula Brooch, Paley forged the two separate disks, each with a swinging pin, from a design based on the Celtic penannular brooch. By beveling the disks’ edges and pulling them up, he was able to achieve a three-dimensional form. He combined the disks with a central stem layered with gold scrolls, bands of alternating pearls and silver teardrops, and pulled floriform silver shapes, which reinforced the feeling of motion.