Paula Cooper Gallery, 1997
Softcover, 20 pages, 9 x 7 inches
This publication accompanied an exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery featuring Tony Smith’s Moondog (1964) and Smog (1970). Smith said, “All my sculpture is on the edge of dreams. They come close to the unconscious in spite of their geometry. On one level my work has clarity. On another it is chaotic and imagined.” It is this play between formal arrangement and spontaneity that gives Smith’s work its mysterious yet undeniable presence and authority.
Rising approximately 17 feet high, Moondog is a sophisticated combination of geometry, volume and monumentality. Both the internal and external structures are wedded, arrived at simultaneously through the geometric configurations that are the underlying basis of all Smith’s works. Like many of his sculptures, the whole is not visible from any one side; space is organized to relate to the human body as we move around and within the work. Moondog’s shifting planar surfaces and angles offer a topological reading of the sculpture as part of a continual space rather than a self-contained object.
Smog is a network of interlocking tetrahedrons stretched horizontally. Its motif is the labyrinth, a configuration Smith employed for its “intuitive and emotional level, without a rationale, or even any analysis.” Smog also evokes nature’s modular patterning, evident in such structures as the honeycomb or crystal. It is an exploration in pure form stemming from Smith’s background in architecture, which he practiced for two decades.