20230713_SMITH_TONY Installation_v07

Tony Smith

Wall, New Piece, One-Two-Three

Jul 14 – Aug 18, 2023
New York
Exhibition Details:

Tony Smith
Wall, New Piece, One-Two-Three

Jul 14 – Aug 18, 2023


510 West 25th Street
New York


Press Release


(opens in a new window) @pacegallery

Above: Installation views, Tony Smith: Wall, New Piece, One-Two-Three, July 14-August 18, 2023, Pace Gallery, New York © Tony Smith

Pace is pleased to present an exhibition of large-scale sculpture by Tony Smith at its 510 West 25th Street gallery in New York.

On view from July 14 to August 18, the show will offer a unique opportunity for viewers to experience Smith’s monumental works, highlighting the evolution of the artist’s sculptural practice during the 1960s and 1970s.

Though he would become widely known for his sculpture, Smith began his career as an architect, working with Frank Lloyd Wright on Usonian homes and other projects in the late 1930s. The artist was an independent architectural designer from the early 1940s through the 1950s, crossing over into sculpture in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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 encourage new modes of understanding and experiencing their surrounding environments. He often referred to his sculptures as “presences,” a term that captures their undeniable power and charisma. Pace maintained a long relationship with Smith during his lifetime and began representing the Tony Smith estate in 2017.

The gallery’s focused presentation in New York this summer will spotlight three of the artist’s large-scale, black- painted steel sculptures: Wall (1964), New Piece (1966), and One-Two-Three (1976). Inhabiting non-linear planes of space, these sculptures are meant to be experienced from a wide range of perspectives, speaking to the connections between sculpture, the body, and the environment.

Each of the three sculptures in Pace’s upcoming exhibition presents the viewer with a different proposition. Wall, a rectangular work standing eight feet tall and stretching 18-feet wide, is an imposing, almost confrontational structure. With this work, Smith explores ideas of interiority and enclosure as well as exteriority and fluidity. Despite its boldness, Wall is a navigable artwork that reveals its phenomenological potential through physical engagement.

New Piece takes up another kind of spatial investigation. Stretching itself upwards in an energetic diagonal motion, New Piece can be understood as a study of the disorientating effects of shape and perspective—a visual provocation that points towards a new mode of experiencing and inhabiting space. Describing New Piece, Smith once said, “This piece is based not upon rectangular prisms nor on tetrahedral lattices but upon modular units made up of components of the rhomboidal dodecahedron. There is a connection with the tetrahedral structures, however, in that the rhomboidal surfaces of this figure are the same as the sections of the others.”

One-Two-Three comprises three distinct, modular units situated in dialogue with one another. Viewers are invited to approach the work from different angles to decipher enactments of fragmentation and wholeness among its constituent shapes: trapezoidal formations give way to individual triangles, and, conversely, groups of triangles coalesce into parallelograms. Notably, One-Two-Three was exhibited by the Art Production Fund in New York’s Bryant Park in 2013 as part of the Tony Smith Centennial Program.

“Smith’s works confound the boundaries between architecture and sculpture, between monuments and objects,” art historian Joan Pachner wrote in a publication produced by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1998 on the occasion of Tony Smith: Architect, Painter, Sculptor, a retrospective that featured both New Piece and One-Two- Three. “The boundaries between inside and outside, the natural and the man-made, sculpture and architecture, are constantly called into question in Smith’s created spaces.”

As viewers move around the sculptures in Pace’s exhibition, new forms and meanings are brought into focus. Together, Wall, New Piece, and One-Two-Three reflect Smith’s ability to imbue his lyrical abstractions with spiritual import.


Featured Works

Tony Smith, New Piece, 1966, steel, painted black, 6' 11" × 12' × 14' 2" (210.8 cm × 365.8 cm × 431.8 cm)
Tony Smith, Wall, 1964, steel, painted black, 8' × 2' × 18' (243.8 cm × 61 cm × 548.6 cm)
Tony Smith, One-Two-Three, 1976, steel, painted black, 29-7/8" × 72-1/2" × 42" (75.9 cm × 184.2 cm × 106.7 cm) 51-3/8" × 72-1/2" × 72-1/2" (130.5 cm × 184.2 cm × 184.2 cm) 51-3/8" × 108-1/2" × 72-1/2" (130.5 cm × 275.6 cm × 184.2 cm)

Installation Views


About the Artist

Tony Smith 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. His profound achievements in American sculpture have been honored with retrospectives of his work at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (2002); Menil Collection, Houston (2010); and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017).

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