Tony Smith (sculptor)

Tony Smith (sculptor)

Tony Smith (September 23, 1912 – December 26, 1980) was an American sculptor, visual artist, and a noted theorist on art.

Tony Smith was born in South Orange, New Jersey. He first trained as an architect and in 1939 began working for Frank Lloyd Wright and was introduced to Wright's module concrete blocks. He also did some painting as a part-time student at the Art Students League of New York but did not begin sculpting until 1956 when he was age 44. His first exhibitions were in 1964. He is primarily known for his influential Minimalist sculpture.

Allied with the minimalist school, Tony Smith worked with simple geometrical modules combined on a three-dimensional grid, creating drama through simplicity and scale. During the 1940s and 1950s Smith became close friends with Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still, and his sculpture shows their abstract influence

Smith was also a teacher in various institutions including New York University, Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Bennington College and Hunter College and was a leading sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s. Smith is considered a pioneer of the American Minimal art movement. He was asked to anchor the seminal 1966 show at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled, "Primary Structures."

Smith was asked to teach a sculpture course at the University of Hawaii in Manoa during the summer of 1969. He designed two unrealized works, "Haole Crater"(a recessed garden) and "Hubris" but eventually created "The Fourth Sign" that was sited on the campus. His Hawaii experience also generated fodder for his "For..." series whose initials are friends and artists he met during his time in Manoa.

A major retrospective, "Tony Smith: Architect, Painter, Sculptor," was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1998.

Tony met his wife, opera singer, Jane Lawrence, in New York in 1943. They were married in Santa Monica with Tennessee Williams as his best man.

He was the father of artists Chiara "Kiki" Smith, Seton Smith and the underground actress Bebe Smith (Seton's twin), who died in 1988.

In 1961, Smith was injured in a car accident and subsequently developed a blood condition which produces a large number of red blood cells called polycythemia. His health was always questionable and deteriorated until he succumbed to a heart attack at age 68.

The Estate of Tony Smith is represented by the Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.

culptures in public collections and public spaces

United States


*"Free Ride", 1962, Clos Pegase Winery, Calistoga
*"Fermi", 1973, South Coast Plaza Town Center, Costa Mesa
*"For J.C.", 1969, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
*"Smoke", 1967/2005, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
*"Willy"(maquette), 1969, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
*"Die" (full scale maquette), 1967, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach
*"Throwback" 2/3, 1976-77, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
*"Spitball", 1961, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
*"For D.G." 2/6, 1969, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford
*"For J.W." [John Wisnosky, University of Hawaii Prof of Art, later chairman of the Art Departmment per Heidi Holst, Curator of Arts Education at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI] 2/6, 1969, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford


*"Untitled", 1967, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
*"For D.G." 1/6, 1969, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
*"For P.N." [Prithwish Neogy, chairman of the University of Hawaii Art Department, worked with MS to site "The Fourth Sign"] 2/6, 1969, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

District of Columbia

*Moondog, 1998-99, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington
*"The Snake is Out" AP, 1962, National Gallery of Art - East, Washington
*"Wandering Rocks" 4/5, 1967, National Gallery of Art - East, Washington
*"Die" 2/3, 1962, National Gallery of Art, Washington
*"Throwback" 3/3, 1978-79, Hirschhorn Sculpture Garden, Washington
*"She Who Must Be Obeyed" (maquette), 1975, Luce Foundation Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
*"She Who Must Be Obeyed", 1975, Frances Perkins Federal Building, Washington


*"Throwback", 1976-79, The Marguiles Collection at the WAREhOUSE, Miami


*"The Keys to. Given!" 1/3, 1965, High Museum of Art, Atlanta


*"The Fourth Sign", 1976-77, University of Hawaii campus, Honolulu


*"Marriage", 1961, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines
*"We Lost", 1962, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines


*"Gracehoper" 2/3, 1971, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Louisville


*"Lipizzaner", 1976-78, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans
*"Lipizzaner" (maquette), 1976-78, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans


*"Spitball" 3/3, 1961, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
*"Smug", 1967/1973, Glenstone Museum, Potomac


*"For Marjorie", 1961-77, MIT campus, Cambridge
*"Throwback" (study), 1976-79, Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge
*"Stinger", 1967-68, Arts on the Point, UMass, Boston
*"For V.T.", 1969, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


*"Spitball" 50/50, 1970, University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor
*"Gracehoper" 1/3, 1971, Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit
*"Spitball", 1970, Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit
*"For J.W.", 1969, Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids



*"Free Ride" 2/3, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis

New Jersey

*"Moses", 1969, Princeton University campus, Princeton
*"Moses" (model), 1967-68, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton
*"New Piece" 2/3, 1966, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
*"For J.C." [Jean Charlot, the French Cubist painter per Mary-Kate O'Hare, Ph.d., Assoc. Curator of American Art at the Newark Museum] , 1969, Newark Museum, Newark
*"For J.C." (maquette), 1969, Newark Museum, Newark
*"81 More" (model), Kean College of New Jersey, Union

New York

*"The Snake is Out" [see Storr pg. 28, taken from John McNulty's "Third Ave Medicine", a term that bartenders use describing a small vein that begins to protrude on a man's left temple when they have had too much to drink] 1/3, 1962, Empire State Plaza, Albany
*Cigarette 1/3, 1961, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo
*"Die", 1962, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
*"Cigarette" (maquette), 1973, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
*Cigarette 2/3, 1961, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
*"Free Ride" 3/3, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
*"Amaryllis" AP, 1965, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
*"Tau" 1/3, 1961-62, Hunter College, New York
*"For W.A." 1/6, 1969, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
*"Die" 1/3, 1962, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York
*"One-Two-Three" 1/3, 1976, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York
*"Duck" 1/3, 1962, Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden, Pepsico Co., Purchase
*"Playground", 1962-66, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester


*"For P.C." 2/6, 1969, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
*"Source" 1/3, 1967, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
*"Last", 1979, Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland
*"Spitball" 2/3, 1961, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland


*"Night", 1962, Haverford College, Haverford
*"We Lost" 1/3, 1962, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
*"Light Up", 1971, Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh


*"Willy", 1978, Dallas Museum of Art courtyard, Dallas
*"For Dolores/Flowers for the Dead/Flores para los muertos", 1973-75, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
*"One-Two-Three" 2/3, 1976, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
*"The Snake is Out" 3/3, 1962, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
*"Ten Elements" 2/3, 1975-79, Raymond Nasher Estate, Dallas
*"The Elevens Are Up" [see Storr pg. 28-29, taken from John McNulty's "Third Ave Medicine", a term that bartenders use describing the two cords that stand out on the back of an alcoholic's neck] 1/3, 1963, Loretto Park, The Menil Collection, Houston
*"Wall" 1/3, 1964, Loretto Park, The Menil Collection, Houston
*"New Piece" 1/3, 1966, Loretto Park, The Menil Collection, Houston
*"The Snake is Out" 2/3, 1962, Menil Collection, University of Texas, Houston
*"Asteriskos/Little Star", 1968, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio
*"Amaryllis", 1965, "Landmarks" public art project, University of Texas, Austin

*"Smog", 1969-70, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Middlebury College, Middlebury


*"Untitled", 1966, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond


*"Stinger/One Gate" 1/3, 1967-1968(wood), 1999(steel), Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
*"Wandering Rocks" AP, 1967, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle


*"Wandering Rocks" 2/5, 1967, The Bradley Family Foundation Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee



*"Black Box", 1962, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa


*"Amaryllis" 3/3, 1965, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Shizuoka


*"Wandering Rocks" 5/5, 1967, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo


*"Marriage" 1/3, 1961, Oslo

Other Work

*"Throne", 1956
*"Cross", 1960-62
*"Light Box" 9 cast, 1961
*"Beardwig", 1962
*"Tower of Winds", 1962
*"Memphis", 1962-63
*"Mistake" 9 cast, 1963
*"Generation", 1965
*"Arm", 1968 (destroyed)
*"Seed", 1968
*"Trap" 9 cast, 1968
*"Trunk", 1968 (destroyed)
*"For D.C." [Dominique Charlot, John Charlot's wife, Jean's daughter in law...nicknamed "Broomstick"] , 1969
*"For M.S." [Mamoru Sato, University of Hawaii, Prof of Art and Sculpture. Hired as a consultant to supervise fabrication and installation of "The Fourth Sign"] , 1969
*"81 More", 1970, (destroyed)

ee also

*Environmental sculpture


*Busch, Julia M., [ "A Decade of Sculpture: the New Media in the 1960s"] (The Art Alliance Press: Philadelphia; [ Associated University Presses] : London, 1974) ISBN 0-87982-007-1
*Charlot, John, "Tony Smith in Hawai'i", The Journal of Intercultural Studies, University of Hawai'i Press, No. 30 2003
*Shortliffe, Mark (coordinator), "Not an Object. Not a Monument. The Complete Large-Scale Sculpture of Tony Smith" (Matthew Marks Gallery: New York; 2007) ISBN 978-3-86521-313-6
*Storr, Robert, "Tony Smith: Architect Painter Sculptor" (Museum of Modern Art: New York; 1998) ISBN 0-87070-071-5

External links

* [ Tony Smith's page at Matthew Marks]
* [ Tony Smith Biography] @
* [ Tony Smith Biography] @
* [,16641,1101671013,00.html?internalid=AC Time Magazine Oct 13, 1967]
* [ Smith's home town, South Orange, NJ, efforts to fund and install a copy of Tau]

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