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Tony Smith

Jun 4 – Jul 16, 2022
Los Angeles
Exhibition Details:

Tony Smith
Jun 4 – Jul 16, 2022


1201 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles


Press Release


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Above: Installation view, Tony Smith, Jun 4 – Jul 16, 2022, Pace Gallery, Los Angeles © Tony Smith/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Pace is pleased to present an exhibition of work by American sculptor Tony Smith, who imbued minimalist structures with spiritual import, at its new West Coast flagship in Los Angeles.

Marking the gallery’s second presentation at its recently opened space, the show brings together sculptures and paintings created over the course of two decades, focusing on the organic forms that constitute much of Smith’s work.

Though he would become widely known for his sculptures, Smith began his career as an architect, working with Frank Lloyd Wright on Usonian homes and other projects in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The artist worked as an independent architectural designer before developing his prolific sculptural practice in the mid and late 1950s.

Smith often drew inspiration for his dynamic geometric abstractions from phenomena in the natural world. Through his artworks, Smith investigated the formal possibilities of crystalline structures, including octahedrons and tetrahedrons. Embracing the imaginative effects of chance and chaos, the artist produced sculptures that forged a new language of abstraction amid the rise of Minimalism. Deeply engaged with architecture, science, mathematics, and philosophy, Smith’s works propose new modes of understanding and experiencing their surrounding environments. “I view art as something vast,” Smith said in a 1966 interview with Artforum, adding, “I’m interested in the inscrutability and the mysteriousness of the thing.” Pace maintained a long relationship with Smith during his lifetime, and it began representing the Tony Smith Estate in 2017.

At Pace’s Los Angeles gallery, the architecture of which features a unique integration of natural light and indooroutdoor space, Smith’s sculptures will take on new associations and meanings. The exhibition will showcase both small- and large-scale works, including four sculptures from the artist’s For series. Smith began work on the series while teaching at the University of Hawaii in summer 1969. He dedicated the nine welded bronze and black patina sculptures in this body of work to nine friends, several of whom were his colleagues in Hawaii. The titles of these works incorporate the initials of the individuals for whom they are named.

Art historian, critic, and curator Jean-Pierre Criqui once wrote of the For series, “From the twin parallelepipeds of For W.A. to the complex, unpredictable, and nearly impossible to memorize structure of For J.C., [Smith’s] entire method of formal elaboration can be retraced.”

As part of the exhibition at Pace in LA, Smith’s cast bronze and black patina sculpture Smug (1973) will be on view in the gallery’s expansive courtyard. With interlocking, layered abstractions that speak to miraculous dynamism and synergy present in natural forms, Smug reflects the compositional and technical virtuosity of the artist’s practice. Like the other sculptures in the show, Smug is a work of transfiguration, revealing new geometries and structures to viewers as they walk around and experience the work. The paintings in the exhibition complement the sculptures on view, shedding light on the ways that the artist’s two- and three-dimensional investigations of geometry and abstraction informed one another.


Featured Works

Tony Smith, For P.C., 1969, welded bronze, black patina, 5' 5" × 6' × 5' 9" (165.1 cm × 182.9 cm × 175.3 cm)
Tony Smith, For J.C., 1969, welded bronze, black patina, 6' 8" × 6' 8" × 4' 9" (203.2 cm × 203.2 cm × 144.8 cm)
Tony Smith, For D.C., 1969, welded bronze, black patina, 2' 9" × 13' 4" × 6' 8" (83.8 cm × 406.4 cm × 203.2 cm)
Tony Smith, For V.T., 1969, welded bronze, black patina, 2' 4" × 4' 8" × 7' (71.1 cm × 142.2 cm × 213.4 cm)

Installation Views


About the Artist

Tony Smith is considered his process to be intuitive, his work resting close to the unconscious and exploring themes of spirituality and presence in a synthesis of geometric abstraction and expressionism. He studied painting at the Art Students League, New York (1934–36) and attended the New Bauhaus, Chicago (1937–38), before apprenticing with Frank Lloyd Wright (1938–39).

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