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garden view in summer
Courtesy Walker Art Center
garden view in summer Image Rights
Image Rights
garden view in summer
Courtesy Walker Art Center
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


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Tony Smith
138 × 90 × 138 inches
Cor-Ten steel, paint
Not on view

Object Details

Accession Number
engraved on stainless steel “Tony Smith 65/58 2/3”

artwork entry Tony Smith, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1998

Tony Smith had worked as an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright and was a practicing architect, designer, and painter for twenty years before turning to sculpture around 1960. Creating his monochromatic works in steel out of simple geometric forms, Smith influenced the development of Minimal sculpture—which values rational order, conceptual rigor, and clarity over expressive values and content. Amaryllis, composed of two polyhedron shapes, changes dramatically as the viewer circles it. From one perspective the two shapes appear identical and balanced; from the side view the entire structure seems ready to topple. Smith titled this work Amaryllis because the piece at first appeared rather ungainly to him, just as the amaryllis plant seemed “some terrible aberration of form.

Jenkins, Janet, ed. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1998, no. 8.

© 1998 Walker Art Center

curriculum resource Tony Smith, Amaryllis (1965/1968) Walker Art Center, 1998

Before emerging as one of the forerunners of Minimal sculpture in the 1960s, Tony Smith worked as an apprentice to architect Frank Lloyd Wright and practiced as an architect from 1940 to 1960. His sculpture is generally composed of simple geometric forms constructed of steel and is easily recognized by its stark, monochromatic appearance. Smith composed Amaryllis using two geometric shapes that change dramatically as the viewer circles the sculpture. From one view the sculpture appears as a balanced form consisting of two identical shapes. Viewed from the side, it appears unbalanced, as though the supported form might topple. The material the artist used for the work, Cor-Ten steel, achieves a rust-brown color if left unpainted when it is exposed to rain and snow. The Walker’s sculpture is painted black, conforming with Smith’s original conception of the work’s spare surface and clean geometric form.

Text for Tony Smith, Amaryllis (1965/1968), from the curriculum guide The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: A Garden for All Seasons, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center