Tony Smith, American, 1912–1980

Moses, 1967–68; fabricated 1969

Painted mild steel
The John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection, Princeton University

After working in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright and pursuing a successful career as an architect, Tony Smith embraced the medium of sculpture in the early 1960s, utilizing unconventional materials and techniques such as steel and welding. Smith’s work consists of complex polyhedrons, inspired in part by his study of mathematics and crystallography, and it explores the relationship between form and scale as well as perception, location, and duration. Smith titled his sculptures only after the maquettes had been finished. About Moses, the artist said, "The parallel uprights suggested the horns of Michelangelo’s Moses. We know that these strange attributes were the result of a misunderstanding by the Latin Vulgate of the Hebrew word ‘shone.’ . . . My sculpture, without previous intent, perpetuates this curiosity." Moses is one of over a dozen outdoor sculptures in the Putnam Collection, funded by the family of Lieutenant John B. Putnam Jr., a Princeton student and United States Air Force pilot killed during World War II.