Tony Smith (1912-1980) made more than fifty large-scale sculptures in the final two decades of his life. With their geometric forms and distinct black finish, they represent one of the supreme achievements in American sculpture. A contemporary of the Abstract Expressionists, many of whom were his close friends, Smith studied painting and architecture in the 1930s before turning to architecture full time in the 1940s. It was not until the late 1950s that he began to make sculpture. He had his first one-person exhibition in 1966, the same year his work was included in Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum, New York, one of the most important exhibitions of the 1960s.
Smith’s unique vision has had a profound influence on subsequent generations. In 1998 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, mounted a major retrospective of his sculpture, architecture, and painting. A European retrospective followed in 2002, arranged by IVAM in Valencia, Spain, and in 2010 the Menil Collection, Houston, organized a retrospective of his works on paper. More recently, institutions around the world celebrated Smith’s 100th birthday with special exhibitions, including an outdoor installation in New York’s Bryant Park.
Smith’s work is included in leading international collections such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterloo, Netherlands.