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Tony Smith

May 8 - June 27, 2004
523 W 24 Street
Opening Saturday, May 8, 2004

Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Tony Smith in his gallery at 523 West 24th Street.

This exhibition will consist of three sculptures—Black Box, The Elevens Are Up, and Wall—made between 1962 and 1964.

After exploring painting in the 1930s, Smith supported himself as an architect for over twenty years, going back to painting in the 1950s. He did not dedicate himself to making sculpture until the following decade, producing his first mature sculptures, including Black Box and Die, in 1962. The artist's first one-person exhibition included both painting and sculpture and was held at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1966, in which all three sculptures in our show were first exhibited.

The sculptures included in our exhibition are among the most reduced forms in Smith's sculptural oeuvre. Black Box, inspired by a card file the artist saw resting on a desk, was the very first sculpture Smith ever fabricated. Sitting on the ground in the yard behind the artist's home, the sculpture initially recalled a child's tombstone, inspiring one of the artist's daughters to ask who was buried there. Black Box was followed by Die, a six-foot steel cube.

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. When considering the sculpture and the void in-between the two masses, the work forms a perfect eight-foot cube, similar to Die but based on a measurement slightly larger than what Smith considered the ideal male height.

After creating a maquette for The Elevens Are Up but before fabricating the work in steel, the artist placed the two masses end-to-end, simulating one long, solid sculpture. This arrangement inspired Wall, 1964, measuring eight feet in height and eighteen feet in length.

A major exhibition of Tony Smith's sculpture was organized by IVAM in Valencia, Spain, in 2002, and the accompanying catalogue reproduces several works currently in our exhibition. Smith's work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1998. Two of sculptures in our exhibition—The Elevens Are Up, 1963, and Wall, 1964—were recently permanently installed outside the Menil Collection in Houston, alongside New Piece, 1966.

Tony Smith will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery, 523 West 24th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues) through Saturday, June 27th, 2004. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

For further information or reproductions please contact Sabrina Buell at 212-243-0200.

Additional Information