black painted aluminum sculpture formed from interlocking octahedrons, on green grass with pink spring blossoms overhead
(Credit: Copyright © Brett Simison )

Tony Smith (American, 1912–1980)

Smog, 1969–1970, fabricated 2000

Painted aluminum, 7 x 80 x 60 feet.

Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, Vermont. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy, 2000.013. Copyright © 2022 Tony Smith Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Location: East lawn of McCardell Bicentennial Hall

Smog is the largest and most complex work by Tony Smith ever constructed. The artist was an exact contemporary of the Abstract Expressionist generation, but his art, unlike theirs, was never based on controlled accidents. He was trained as an architect and was well versed in mathematics and modular systems; his sculptures evolved over time from simple to increasingly complex geometric forms. Smith died before Smog and other of his complex sculptures were fabricated in permanent materials. The sculpture is composed of octahedrons that create a lattice of positive and negative spaces. The cool metallic beauty and rhythm of its complex forms seem to have come into being by efflorescence, possessing both the logic of crystals and the passion of living forms.