Day 168/365 of Steel – Anthony Peter Smith

Anthony Peter Smith (September 23, 1912 – December 26, 1980) was an American sculptor, visual artist, architectural designer, and a noted theorist on art. He is often cited as a pioneering figure in American Minimalist sculpture. Minimal Art is a historical art movement that originated in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States of America, marked by extreme abstraction, geometric shapes, and radical simplicity, pioneered by artists such as Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Robert Morris.

Light Up, 1971. Steel, painted yellow
Fig 1: Light Up, 1971. Steel, painted yellow
Photo: © Tony Smith Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS, New York)

Allied with the minimalist school, Smith worked with simple geometrical modules combined on a three-dimensional grid, creating drama through simplicity and scale.

Smoke, Edition: 1/3, 1967
Fig 2: Smoke, Edition: 1/3, 1967
Photo: Lucy Redoglia

In 1940, Smith began his career as an independent architectural designer, which lasted until the early 1960s. While recovering from an automobile accident at home in 1961, Smith started to create small sculptural maquettes using agglomerations of tetrahedrons and octahedrons. In 1962 he created Black Box, his first fabricated steel sculpture.

TAU by Tony Smith
Fig 3: TAU by Tony Smith
Photo: Liambruckercasey

The dense rectangular prism, less than two feet high, developed from a file card box. Smith enlarged the proportions of the box five times. With this piece, Smith had discovered a sculpting process that he continued to hone.

Black Box, 1962
Fig 4: Black Box, 1962

In 1962, he made Die, a 6′ steel cube that established his reputation as one of the most influential and important artists of his time. The Elevens Are Up (1963) follows formally on Die. The sculpture consists of two black steel masses installed face to face, four feet apart. Fabricated in steel, Source (1967) is a monumental sculpture which Smith first exhibited at Documenta IV in Kassel, in 1968.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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