Self-taught artist Thaddeus Mosley was born in 1926 in New Castle, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the U.S. Navy. He went on to major in English and journalism at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1950. Mosley worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 40 years and wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s leading Black newspapers. In the 1950s Mosley began making sculptures, and in 1968 he had his first solo exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Using wood from reclaimed building materials and local sawmills, as well as fallen logs sourced from Pittsburgh’s Forestry Division, Mosley’s carved abstractions, or “sculptural improvisations,” as he calls them, show the influence of jazz on his artistic process. He often listens to music while he sculpts. “My woods and stones and I generate themes together,” Mosley says.
At age 95, Mosley continues to work in his studio six hours a day. Illusory Progression and Rhizogenic Rhythms were commissioned for the 2020 Frieze Sculpture exhibition at Rockefeller Center in New York. Carved out of salvaged timber and then cast in bronze, these biomorphic sculptures playfully interact with one another and their surroundings. Mosley’s inventive works not only push the boundaries of the medium, but also engage with the history of sculpture. As the artist has described, “One of the most important aspects of my own work is how different segments interact. Because of [sculptor Isamu] Noguchi, I’ve aimed for work that levitates or is slightly off balance.”
Mosley has received numerous commissions over the years, including a public sculpture for Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority in 1978. He has been an officer for the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors and a board member of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Mosley’s work has been exhibited and acquired by major museums and can be found in many public collections, including the Mattress Factory museum, Martin Luther King Jr. Reading and Cultural Center, and Carnegie Museum of Art, all in Pittsburgh; Art Institute of Chicago; High Museum of Art in Atlanta; and Brooklyn Museum. He is represented by Karma, New York.