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Artists Tony Smith

Tony Smith

American Painter, Sculptor, and Architect

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Born: September 23, 1912 - South Orange, New Jersey

Died: December 26, 1980 - New York City

"I had always been impressed by systems of order. I always felt that instead [of] reducing a subject they lent to it an air of mystery."

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A prolific sculptor and painter, Tony Smith contributed much to the birth of Minimalism in the 1960s. Yet he was an anomalous figure, always occupying a slightly peripheral position in relation to the movements with which he was associated, and only exhibiting as an artist from his fifties onwards. Friendly with the Abstract Expressionists in 1940s-50s New York, his work bears no traces of the febrile spontaneity of Jackson Pollock's, for example. Indeed, at that time, Smith was primarily an architect, in the modernist tradition of Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, while his painting had more in common with the measured, systematic compositions of European Concrete Art. When he turned to monolithic, system-based sculpture in the early 1960s, he took up a slightly awkward position within the burgeoning Minimalist collective. Older than its leading figures, Smith worked to some extent by intuition, without the earnest philosophical scruples associated with that scene. Underlying all his work, nonetheless, is an interest in the forms of repetition and multiplication of the visual and physical world. At its best, his paintings and constructions embody a mesmeric, cosmic process of growth.

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