Art at the Columbia Public Library


by Albert Paley, 2002

In 2000, after reviewing work by artists from across the nation, the Columbia Public Library Art Committee selected Albert Paley to produce artwork for the entrances of the new library. The pair of steel sculptures collectively titled “Cypher” was installed August 30, 2002. The north sculpture is 38 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 31,950 pounds. The south sculpture is 30 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 24,750 pounds.

In a statement sent to the library the day “Cypher” was installed, Paley wrote: “The sculptures function as sentinel guardians that herald the entering and exiting of the library. The seemingly irrational gestural nature of the sculptures function as a counterpoint to the formal elegance of the architecture. The title, ‘Cypher,’ references the signs, symbols and intricacies of the systemization of language. Although abstract and non-literal, the tall, tapered stylus-like elements, intertwined amidst the folded and scroll-like forms, have reference to writing implements. This provides a connotation to human communication and reflects the aspirations and assertions of the human condition through language. The sculptures aid in defining the cultural profile of this library complex.”

An anonymous donation of $240,000 paid for this artwork.

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