SMOG, 1969-70


Aluminum, painted black
6'10" x 78' x 64'
Edition 1/3
Middlebury College, VT

Smoke was just shipped back here from the Corcoran and it was put over near the back fence. I thought the man on the other side of the fence might be getting tired of it being there, so I decided to have it taken to the dump and burned. Then that night, I was actually asleep and was awakened for a few minutes; I thought maybe I could do something else with Smoke before I threw it away. I thought I could put it on one level, instead of the double-storied original, but felt the angle of the pieces coming to the ground would be so acute that it would lose any quality and any sense of value. Then I decided to put those little triangular prisms on, in order to raise it from the ground and create a sense of space. Then, just for symmetry, I felt I needed to put some caps at the other intersection. The hardest problem was to arrange the 45 pieces so as not to make a completely symmetrical impression in plan. No matter how I did it, the patterns repeated. Then I figured out a way of doing it on a piece of paper about 2 by 3 inches, and I gave it to the boys and told them to put the pieces in that order, but the little pieces of paper blew away. I tried to repeat it and couldn’t remember it, so I went through the same process again. I don’t think it was as good as the first version, but it was the best I could do. But I was pleased with it. Even though I didn’t put the piece together very well and a lot of parts are roughly joined, I feel it still has enough continuity. I guess the ground gives it that sense of cohesion. I must say I’ve had all kind of ideas about this piece that I never had about others. Even though Smoke was intended to accommodate a lot of people, I didn’t feel that the people were essential to the piece, whereas here, when I see people looking at it, or when the boys were putting it together and were having lunch out there, the image complemented by people is very strong.”
-Tony Smith on Smog

All artworks © Tony Smith Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS, New York)