Throwback (1976–79) is an iconic monumental sculpture by American Minimalist sculptor, painter, and architect Tony Smith. Produced in an edition of three, the version presented in ICA Miami’s Sculpture Garden is a working model welded by the artist.
Smith is widely recognized for his large-scale, modular sculptures produced throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Largely influenced by his architectural training and practice, Smith’s reduced forms explore space and volume in relation to the human body and the themes of self and spirituality. While his forms and materials place him in proximity to the Minimal art of the 1960s, his work also engages the heroism and humanism of 1950s Abstract Expressionism. Resting on three points, Throwback wraps and bends around itself, offering a variety of perspectives and vantages onto its unfolding forms with no distinct front, back, beginning, or end. Through its simple, fluid structure, Throwback activates the surrounding space, inviting viewers to move around and explore the work from various angles and perspectives.
Tony Smith (b. 1912, South Orange, New Jersey; d. 1980, New York) became known in the 1960s in the context of Minimal art and was included in the seminal group exhibition Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum, New York, in 1966. Major retrospectives of his work have been presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017); Menil Collection, Houston (2010); Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain (2002); and Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998). Smith’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.