Tony Smith (born 1912) made more than 50 large-scale sculptures between 1960 and his death in 1980. Their distinct black finish and geometric forms represent one of the supreme achievements in American sculpture, and his unique vision has proven enormously influential on subsequent generations. A contemporary of the Abstract Expressionists, many of whom were his close friends, Smith studied architecture, then began painting in the 1930s before turning to architecture full-time in the 1940s. It was not until the late 1950s that he began to make sculpture, and he had his first one-person exhibition in 1966. That same year, Smith was included in Primary Structures, one of the most important exhibitions of the 1960s, at The Jewish Museum, New York.
In 1998 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, mounted a major retrospective of Smith's work, including his architecture, painting, and sculpture. His work is included in most leading international public collections, including: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; and the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterloo, The Netherlands.