TONY SMITH INSIDE/OUT

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Although Tony Smith’s cast-bronze sculptures were mainly intended for outdoor and/or public sites, they have also been installed in indoor spaces. Smith said his works were “interruptions in an otherwise unbroken flow of space,” a description that, indeed, obtains in both indoor and outdoor settings. That universality of function having been acknowledged, it is striking how differently the works react to indoor and outdoor settings. Contained in a gallery or museum and photographed under carefully-controlled lighting conditions, the works come across as sleek, monumental, impersonal and reticent, Minimalism construed as decorum and good taste. Outdoors, they are entirely different creatures. Ungainly, even comic, behemoths diverting traffic in urban spaces, the smaller ones approaching humans like pigeons or squirrels. Others graze in a field like middle-aged dinosaurs. In the exhibition space, Smith sculptures are flawless and timeless, a realization of an idea; outside they are like Ford LTDs parked on the street for many years, industrial products that are altered and degraded by use, climate and time.

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