Location: Located in the Center Club lobby of Center Tower
Tony Smith’s white marble sculpture, “Fermi,” may seem to be the most straight forward form in the collection, but this appearance is deceiving. The work, in the foyer of the Center Club, is an homage to Enrico Fermi, the Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist who brilliantly investigated quantum theory and atomic structure. The balls and connecting bonds in this modular sculpture resmble the particles of an atom, greatly magnified. In “Fermi,” Smith asks us to consider the complex structure of things while giving us a handsome form that also can be appreciated for its uncomplicated elegance.
A sculpture with a background in architecture, Smith has produced a renowned body of geometric abstractions. He often begins with a modular system, then produces variations of it. His work is characterized by its underlying logic and by his interest in combining the concepts of regularity and flexibility. Observed as a purely formal object, devoid of scientific content, “Fermi” can be seen as a matric or grid. This simple form is enhanced by shadows on the sculpture’s curved surfaces and by telescoping views of its round voids and solids.
Tony Smith - Fermi
Bio: (1912 -1981) South Orange, New Jersey. Tony Smith was an American architect, sculptor and painter. He was bedridden with tuberculosis as a child and lived isolated in a small house on his family’s property. He was tutored privately until he went to high school and attended college briefly from 1931 to 1932, before returning to work for his family’s waterworks business. At night he attended the Art Students’ League, studying under George Bridgeman (1864 -1943), George Grosz and Vaclav Vytlacil.
The Piece: Located in the Center Tower’s Center Club, this impressive marble piece was executed in 1975 as a part of a series designed by Smith and carved by Italian craftsmen in Carrara, Italy. Smith asks us to consider the complex structure of things while giving us a handsome form that also can be appreciated for its uncomplicated elegance.
Trivia: Tony Smith’s white marble sculpture, Fermi, is an homage to Enrico Fermi. the Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist who brilliantly investigated quantum theory and atomic structure.