On view at the Menil Collection from December 17, 2010 through April 3, 2011, Tony Smith: Drawings brings together a group of rarely-exhibited works on paper by the American artist best known for monumental geometric sculptures in steel and bronze.
Created between 1950 and 1955, the 30 drawings on display encapsulate a dramatic turning point in Smith’s artistic career, as he shifted from his professional architectural work towards painting and sculpture. Throughout this brief yet remarkably productive period, Smith laid the formal and theoretical groundwork for some of the most essential sculptures of the mid-twentieth-century.
Born in South Orange, New Jersey, in 1912, Smith was stricken with tuberculosis in early childhood – a circumstance, the artist recalled, that allowed him to develop his penchant for art and architecture in quiet isolation. After coursework at Fordham and Georgetown universities, Smith pursued his long-standing artistic interests at the Art Students League of New York, studying under painters George Grosz and Václav Vytlačil in the evenings while working as a draftsman at his family’s manufacturing company during the day.