Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens Acquires Works by Pioneering Minimalist Tony Smith

. December 18, 2013

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens continued to expand its art holdings this fall, acquiring several American works, including For W.A. (1969), a two-part abstract bronze sculpture by pioneering minimalist Tony Smith (1912–1980).

Tony Smith (1912–1980), For W.A., 1969. Edition 3/6; welded bronze, black patina; 2 parts, each: 60 in. (h) × 46 in. (w) × 33 in. (l). Anonymous gift in memory of Robert Shapazian. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. ©Tony Smith Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Tony Smith (1912–1980), For W.A., 1969. Edition 3/6; welded bronze, black patina; 2 parts, each: 60 in. (h) × 46 in. (w) × 33 in. (l). Anonymous gift in memory of Robert Shapazian. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. ©Tony Smith Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Consisting of two five-foot tall rhombic prisms, For W.A. explores issues of perception, optics, and the pure experience of form, inspiring viewers to walk around and view the approachable, velvety black pieces from different angles. It will go on view in July 2014 in a new space devoted to geometric abstraction and pop art when The Huntington opens 5,400 square feet of additional gallery space in its Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

Also acquired for that space this month were a color-saturated untitled abstract painting (oil on canvas, 50 in. × 60 in.) made by Smith in 1960—a rare example of his skills as a colorist—and See Saw (oil on linen, 44 ¾ in. × 44 ¾ in.), a 1966 work by acclaimed American abstract painter Frederick Hammersley (1919–2009). Hammersley was dubbed a “hard edge” artist, first gaining critical attention in the landmark 1959 “Four Abstract Classicists” exhibition along with Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, and John McLaughlin.

Both of the Tony Smith works and the Hammersley painting were acquired with funds from an anonymous donation for the acquisition of American art between 1945 and 1980 in memory of Robert Shapazian.

First opened in 1984, and expanded to more than 16,000 square feet in 2009, the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art display works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the colonial period through the mid 20th century.

Also this fall, The Huntington acquired the following works of American art by gift and purchase: Cypress Tree, Point Lobos (ca. 1930), a colored crayon drawing on paper by Henrietta Shore (1880–1963); Mask of Elizabeth Laroque (1926), a terracotta by Jo Davidson (18830-1952) to complement the sculpture of the subject already in The Huntington’s collections; and Shanty Town (1935), a woodcut by African-American artist Hale Woodruff (1900–1980), purchased with funds provided by longtime Huntington donors Hannah and Russel Kully.

Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.

Category: Museum News

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