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Don’t be surprised if Tony Smith's Smoke gives you anxiety. Especially if you get nervous about creepy crawling bugs.

Smith drew his inspiration from natural geometric structures such as beehives and cells. Though we wouldn't want to see the bees that live in this gigantic thing. This is an enormous sculpture at 24 feet high and 48 feet across. Smith faced budget cuts due to the cost of all that metal and had to exhibit a smaller, wood version of the sculpture in the '60s. The vast size of even the cheapo version earned him the cover of Time magazine. The headline? "Art Outgrows the Museum." Luckily, LACMA found a place for the remake.

Smith never got to see his metal monster in person however, as it was created after his death. Sweetly, it was his widow's wish to have all his sculptural works completed before she also kicked it. 

Unfortunately, despite all the fun it would be, climbing is forbidden.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Smoke (1/3)

Smoke is a large-scale sculpture conceived by American artist Tony Smith in 1967 that was fabricated posthumously in 2005 for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where it was installed in 2008. This two-tier sculptures standing 24 foot tall is made of aluminum and painted black.

Location history

Smoke is unique in that it is Smith’s only large-scale work specifically intended for an interior space. The first iteration of the sculpture was a painted plywood version installed in the atrium of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. in 1967. This version, measuring 45 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 22 feet high, was based on Smith's small-scale cardboard model, and was built and painted by three to seven workmen over the course of two months, at a cost of $6,000. LACMA’s painted aluminum version was installed in 2008 and the first in an edition of three; second in the edition is in a private collection.

Art historian Joan Pachner described the artwork as one that does not have a single focal point or axis: "it looks like a complicated jungle gym. Interior views are dominated by the linear scaffold and the implied infinite expanse of the design."

The sculpture has been on permanent view in the Ahmanson Building Room at LACMA since 2008.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Smoke (1/3).