Seeking to transform the jeweler's art, Paley reinvented every aspect of the traditional pendant, necklace, or brooch, in order to highlight the relationship of the piece to the body. The most advanced of these "wearable sculptures" recapitulate and reinforce bodily structure and movement.
Paley was a highly successful jewelry artist in 1974 when he won the Renwick Gallery's national design competition and was awarded the commission to design decorative metalwork doors for the gallery shop. His Portal Gates[SAAM, 1975.117.1A-B] opened the door to a new career for Paley, leading to numerous commissions and world renown for his monumental architectural ironwork and sculpture. Paley's ironwork pays homage to European art nouveau and American abstract expressionism.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery(Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)