LACMA ‘Walk-Under’ Sculpture Celebrated

Ever strolled beneath Tony Smith's "Smoke"? The Miracle Mile museum unveils an exhibit dedicated to the piece.

© Tony Smith Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

How do you typically interact with an artwork? 

It's never as straightforward as simply stopping and standing before a two-dimensional framed piece, of course.

There are those creations we stroll through, as with Jesús Rafael Soto's "Penetrable," the "spaghetti" sculpture that recently left the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

There are those whimsical, all-encompassing works we enter, like with Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room" at The Broad.

And, on occasion, we enjoy art from beneath the piece. Tony Smith's "Smoke" is an enormous artwork that people frequently stand below, and inside of and around, as they pass through the atrium of LACMA's Ahmanson Building. 

It's the momumental, spider-like shape that's stood at the Miracle Mile museum for nearly a decade, and it has seen, in its time, thousands upon thousands of visitors pass among its over-sized "legs." 

The museum is now paying tribute to the piece via an exhibit called "Tony Smith: Smoke." It's on view on Level 2 of the Ahmanson Building, meaning it is close to its massive namesake sculpture.

There are "...approximately 25 objects in all media..." on view, objects that "...trace the work's evolution, beginning with his early Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired buildings of the 1940s and early 1950s, cellular drawings and paintings from the 1950s, and related sculpture and sketches from the 1960s and early 1970s."

The "Smoke"-tributing display is on view through July 2, 2017.

This is, yes, in short, an artwork that's become so iconic that it now has its own exhibit. A bit meta, perhaps, but, quite often an art aficionado wishes to know more backstory to a piece, to see more drawings and inspirations, but must make do with the piece itself.

Now that walk-under, walk-through sculpture, a can't-miss-it piece that's become one of the best-known around our city, has just that: An exhibit of its own. 

Photo: James Welliing, "Smoke 5," 2009, printed 2013, Inkjet print. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the artist. © Tony Smith Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo © James Welling

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