Exposition Art Blog: Minimalism Tony Smith

Minimalism Tony Smith

Tony Smith (September 23, 1912 – December 26, 1980) was an American sculptor, visual artist, architectural designer, and a noted theorist on art. He is often cited as a pioneering figure in American Minimalist sculpture.
While with Wright, Smith worked with other apprentices on the Armstrong house in Ogden Dunes, Indiana, before deciding to strike out on his own in 1940. Despite his lack of formal architectural training or a license, he was commissioned to design and build several homes including studios for Theodoros Stamos, Betty Parsons and a sprawling compound for Fred Olsen. Despite these successes, the architect/client relationship frustrated Smith enough that he gravitated toward his artwork. Smith continued to paint in abstract geometric composition and found himself teaching a basic design course at Hunter College. One class assignment consisted of forming maquettes out of cigarette box cardboard, he then asked his students to increase the scale of their designs by 5 times with regular cardboard which startled students and teacher alike as powerful objects began to take shape. In 1956, while sitting in a colleague's office, he was drawn to the form of a simple file cabinet. He phoned a local fabricator and commissioned a box 2' x 3' x 2' in size. Although the welders assumed he was crazed, they treated the project with the utmost workmanship and the result was a stunning form to Smith. He had discovered a sculpting process that he continued to hone.

 In 1958, he made Die, a 6’ steel cube that established his reputation as one of the most influential and important artists of his time. The Elevens Are Up (1963) follows formally on Die. Inspired by the two muscles on the back of the neck which are accentuated when the head falls forward, the sculpture consists of two black steel masses installed face to face, four feet apart. Fabricated in steel and weighing over 12,000 pounds, the later Source (1967) is a monumental sculpture which Smith first exhibited at documenta IV in Kassel, Germany in the summer of 1968. After exhibiting massive, black-painted plywood and sheet-metal works at several sites across the United States and internationally, Smith was featured on the October 13, 1967 cover of Time with his plywood structure Smoke (1967)enveloping the atrium of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.

 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. One of Smith’s final architectural projects was an unrealized plan for a church that was to have stained-glass panels designed in collaboration with his friend Pollock.
Smith was also a teacher in various institutions including New York University, Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Bennington College, and Hunter College, where he mentored artists such as Pat Lipsky. He was a leading sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s, typically associated with the Minimal art movement. Smith 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.Wikipedia

No comments: