‘Source’: A Centennial Tribute to Tony Smith at Matthew Marks

NEW YORK—While observing Tony Smith’s “Source,” another viewer asked the woman tending the Matthew Marks Gallery whether it had changed for her over time. Sitting in the one-room space, day after day, the visitor wondered, had she tired of looking at the large black sculpture? Or perhaps, she suggested, the constant engagement had expanded her perspective on the New Jersey-born artist’s work.

The gallerist was flustered by the question. Which is surprising, as the inquiry seems rather obvious—a natural question that would arise regularly from thoughtful observers. Eventually, she responded that she had only been staffing the exhibit for a few days and therefore it was too early for her to determine the relationship.

What do you think? Take a look at the photographs below and view a video of the work, including the color-block painting also on display that serves as a perfect counterpoint to the sculpture.

Tony Smith (1912-1980) is the father of artists Kiki Smith and Seton Smith. On Sept. 23, 2012, the art world marked the 100th anniversary of Smith’s birth with events and special exhibitions. Matthew Marks tribute to Smith is on view at the gallery’s 522 West 22nd Street location from Sept. 7 to Oct. 27, 2012.

All photos © Arts Observer

“Source,” 1967 (steel, painted black).

According to the gallery, “the title refers to Gustave Courbet’s 1864 painting The Source of the Loue. Speaking about Source in 1971, Smith said, ‘It would take many lines to explain why I consider Courbet’s The Source of the Loue to be so uniquely related to Abstract Expressionist painting, but I do associate it with the work of my late friends. Anyhow, when I saw my sculpture, I thought of this great flood gushing from the rock face.'”

Installation view.

“Untitled,” 1962 (oil on canvas).

Rear installation view.

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