About the Exhibition
In the first collaboration between The Museum of Modern Art and Public Art Fund, three monumental sculptures by Tony Smith (1912-1980, b. South Orange, NJ) are temporarily installed at sites in midtown Manhattan. Tony Smith: Architect, Painter, Sculptor, on view at MoMA, is the first comprehensive U.S. retrospective of Smith’s diverse accomplishments. Tony Smith in the City brings the artist’s sculpture into the urban environment, the context in which Smith first became widely known.
At Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Smith’s colossal Cigarette (1961) creates a formidable gateway to Central Park. On Seagram Plaza, a location that had attracted Smith as a potential site, the brilliant yellow Light-Up (1971), one of the artist’s few colored works, provides a massive yet playful presence. No public exhibition of Smith’s work in New York would be complete without a return to Bryant Park, where eight of his works were featured in a widely acclaimed 1967 show; there, the animal-like Smug (1973) crouches above the entrance staircase.
In addition to these temporary installations, Tony Smith in the City also draws attention to the permanent installations of the artist’s work in New York. Tau (1965), so titled because of its resemblance to the letter T, stands at Hunter College, where Smith taught and developed his sculptural system. Throwback (1976-77), which presents radically different configurations when viewed from diverse perspectives, is sited in the courtyard of the International Paper Building.