It’s rare that I feel the need to showcase the work of very famous designers, sculptors or artists. Lets face it, we’ve seen this work many times in the mainstream galleries so I don’t feel an urge to cover here, but when I find someone who has an interesting background and conceptual way of thinking it always urges me to delve deeper.
Tony Smith was a builder, designer and architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, spending 20 years as an architect before making the switch to sculpture. In the early 1960’s he became part of the abstract expressionist movement, even befriending Jackson Pollock and many others artists of the time. For him his base was architecture, after progressing to site specific work and later used his sculpture as elements of architecture.
The practice of building functional spaces gave him a real edge in the field of sculpture, this meant he could play on technical aspects of architecture and apply these to his minimal constructions. To design these involved complex mathematical equations, as well as using negative and positive space he also heavily researched ‘space lattice’ to make groupings of solids such as a 4 sided tetrahedron or 8 sided octahedron.
I guess the main interest for me is that he could step back and let other skilled craftsman do the manual labour for him. This gave him a way to move materials and envisage things from outside his own making, freeing himself from handicraft to develop the final construction. I think this small grouping of sculpture and painting summarises his aesthetic, and will hopefully make you explore further in to the complex equations that played a vital part in creating unique formations.