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Immersive light sculptures: Max Patté

Supernova, 2020

Max Patté

Automotive paints, plexiglass, clear coat, custom board, LEDs, 24v power supply, electrical cable, 240v plug, Micro controllers.

64 in diameter

Max Patté (b. 1977) is a sculptor and 3-D visual artist whose immersive, technology-infused works are designed to create a presence.

Patté started his career as a sculptor working in the film industry. As he’s developed his own practice, Patté has been inspired by the relentless improvement technology to to create physical art with immersive qualities. His large-scale works are designed to evoke emotion and create a strong presence in the spaces they inhabit.

“Have you ever heard that quote by the famous American painter Chuck Close? ‘Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us just show up and get to work’. I’m sure that’s not true of everyone but it’s certainly true for me. My biggest inspiration is the act of creating itself. Learning how to use new materials, machines, techniques, experimentation, failure, ‘the happy accident’. None of these things occur outside the act of actually doing it. I am never less inspired than when I’m on holiday! But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a holiday!!”

Patté grew up in London. His mother encouraged his creativity, suggesting that he apply for Blue Peter, a popular BBC children’s program that features music and art competitions. Patté wasn’t a child star, but he did absorb these nudges toward creativity. At age 13, a critical age when students in the UK have to choose their academic tracks, he opted for art, furniture and industrial design.

Patté studied at the Wimbledon School of Art in London, with the original goal of being a painter. At school, Patté showed skill as a sculptor and also saw an attractive career path in special effects for the film industry. While his goal remained to open his own art practice one day, Patté thought starting in film would provide good foundational experience. He worked for nearly a decade in the UK film industry, with impressive credits like making the original Batsuit for Christian Bale’s Batman character in Batman Begins. Eventually, the grind of 15-hour days began to wear on him. Patté wanted a slower pace and the opportunity to build his own practice.

That opportunity came when he landed a job in New Zealand with WETA, the famed special effects studio responsible for the props, costumes, prosthetics, miniatures and weaponry for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Patté worked as the director of sculpture for 9 years at WETA. During this time, he also opened his own art studio.

One of the first pieces to come out of Patté’s studio was an iron sculpture named Solace in the Wind, made in 2008. The piece was conceived as a personal memento to remember his time in New Zealand. But after it was seen by fellow sculptors and the city council of Wellington (New Zealand’s capital), he was commissioned to create it as a public work. The piece is now a popular tourist attraction along the Wellington Waterfront Walk. Patté credits this commission for launching his studio career.

Solace in the wind, 2008

Max Patté

Cast iron

6.5ft tall

In 2014, Patté moved away from traditional sculpture and begin experimenting with a new style of art. Spurred by his interest in technology, Patté’s new practice is an exploration of the qualities of light as expressed in the natural world and his ability to create or imitate it through physical art using the technology available to us. Patté studies the effect of light, color, tone, saturation and warmth on our moods. His work is designed to have presence even when it’s not being looked at directly. He wants to, in a subtle way, immerse his viewers in a designed experience through his art.

Powder Bloom, 2022

Max Patté

Automotive paints, acrylic paints, clear cast acrylic, epoxy resin, clear coat custom board, 2 way glass, mirror, LEDs, 24v power supply, electrical cable, 240v plug

71 in diameter

Operating directly out of his studio in the tight knit community of Wellington, Patté has established a strong collector base including the Director of WETA, Richard Taylor, and famed British actor and Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellen.

This year, Patté and his family moved from New Zealand to Mallorca, the realization of a long-term goal to live on the Mediterranean. The move was driven both by the need to be closer to family and the European market, as he expands his practice.

Watch an interview with Max Patté:


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