January 6, 2013
Amaryllis: Metal Flower
Art is all about interpretation and the minimalistic piece ‘Amaryllis’ by Tony Smith is a clear example of the phrase. Amaryllis is a sculpture that stands over 5 feet high and is constantly changing in its shapes and angles. The sculpture itself is nestled in a small walled off garden at the Walker Art Center. I was making my way through the Sculpture Garden to the Walker Art Musuem, when I stumbled onto this sculpture. I was lost at this point so I tried to find my way out of the garden and I walked around this sculpture. Instantly, I was puzzled. The sculpture itself seemed to change in front of my eyes. I walked around to view it from another angle and it changed again. I was instantly intrigued. I am not much of a fan of minimalism but this piece was intriguing because of the fact that it managed to change my perception of the piece itself every time I looked at it. The genius behind this sculpture is Tony Smith. He was an American Sculptor that was born in South Orange, New Jersey, and he lived in New York but moved back to his hometown. The places Tony Smith lived in changed his thinking on many topics but mainly on Art. He was born as Anthony Smith in an Irish Family in 1912. At the age of 5, Tony Smith had contracted tuberculosis. His parents did not want the rest of the family to contract the disease so they had him live in a house behind his family with a personal nurse. He was often alone and did not have much to do.. Tony did not have any toys to play with because of the fear of spreading TB to the toys. He often built structures out of his medicine boxes. Though it must have been a trying time for him, Tony Smith often said “The most important fact of my life was having tuberculosis at a very young age”.
Spending hours on building structures out of medicine boxes had an impact on Tony’s future. He briefly attended Georgetown University after high school but soon dropped out. He later moved to Chicago and started working as an office clerk for Frank Lloyd Wright who was an American sculptor and architect. This employment gave Tony Smith the freedom to explore his artistic individuality. Tony Smith made his artistic debut in 1958 with a 6 feet minimalistic sculpture titled Die. It was a 6 foot by 6 foot cube sculpture that represented Death. He made it 6 feet on all sides, because of the saying, ‘6 feet under the ground’. This piece was well-received by critics and it cemented his role as one of the leading artists in the Minimalistic movement. He also made friends with other minimalistic artists who helped influence his art. He often collaborated with famous artists such as Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still. When people think of Amaryllis, they think of the flower, though most people look puzzled when they try to find the resemblance between the small delicate flower and the towering steel structure. The flower is a cold-weather flower hence the use of steel which feels cold when touches. The base of the structure is the ‘bulb’ of the flower and it blooms upwards. That is why the painting has a two geometric pieces that are identical in everything expect for their placement. The piece that is lying on the ground is considered the base of the flower. The other piece that is standing on top of it, is considered the petals of the flower. The use of the shaved edges gives the structure its petals. The Amaryllis flower is considered to be a strong flower; it stands strong through rough weather hence it being a cold weather flower. The use of steel is appropriate in this sculpture because steel is a unyielding medium to use for art. It is very strong and quite impossible to break when using your hands. Therefore, the steel medium is the flower itself.…