While living in New York and working as an architect, Ronald Mallory was inspired by the city’s art scene. He eventually decided to become an artist himself and worked predominantly as a painter. In the early 1960s, he began sharing a studio with Pol Bury, whose work is also in the Albright-Knox's collection. “Pol was a huge influence on my work,” he said. “He was a pure kinetic artist, and I was coming to kinetic art from a painterly point of view.” Mallory bought a small vial of mercury on Canal Street in 1965 and soon after began experimenting with it in his paintings, thinking it would add more volume to his compositions. However, even after being mixed with polyurethane, the substance would not dry and continued to move. The artist was captivated by this result and started to use the material on its own to create kinetic sculptures. While controlling the viscosity of the mercury proved to be difficult, eventually, after trial and error, Mallory began to unravel the secret of manipulating it to achieve the desired effect.
Label from Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s, June 30–December 30, 2018