534 W 21st Street
The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to announce the installation of Tony Smith’s Moondog from 1964 and Smog from 1970.
Moondog consists of elongated octahedral columns, or spokes, irregularly positioned and assembled in a structure resembling a toro, or Japanese stone garden lantern. Its title derives from two sources: Miró’s 1926 painting Dog Barking at the Moon , and a New York City street poet who went by the name of “Moondog”.
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. Smith’s architectural experiments included the expansion and modification of modules toward more expressive form.
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.