Tony Smith was a man of many talents: he was a successful architect who trained at the New Bauhaus school and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright before turning to painting and, eventually, sculpture. Only in his late 40s did Smith begin making sculpture full-time. The structure of Moondog is based on a lattice motif, and comprises a configuration of geometric shapes (15 octahedrons and 10 tetrahedrons). While its rational geometry conveys a grounded regularity, Moondog also has a startling tilt from certain viewpoints, giving an impression of instability. Smith compared this sculpture to a variety of forms, including a Japanese lantern and a human pelvic bone. The title itself derives from two sources: Moondog was the name of a blind poet and folk musician who lived in New York City, and Smith has also likened this sculpture to Dog Barking at the Moon, a painting by Joan Miró. He first created Moondog in 1964 as a 33-inch cardboard model and cast it in bronze as a garden sculpture in 1970. This version was planned by Smith, but was not fabricated until after his death.
lower inside panel of one "leg": T.SMITH / MOONDOG / 1964 / 3/3
Marks and Labels
Fabricated for NGA through (Paula Cooper Gallery, New York); purchased 22 December 1997 by NGA.
- Cigola, Francesca. Art Parks: A Tour of America’s Sculpture Parks and Gardens. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2013: 101.