We Lost (1966)

by Tony Smith (1912-1980)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    We Lost

  • Artist

    Tony Smith (1912-1980)

  • Year

    1966; installed 1975; relocated 2013

  • Location

    Singh Center For Nanotechnology, 3205 Walnut Street

  • Medium

    Black painted steel

  • Dimensions

    Height 10'6"; width 10'6"; depth 10'6"

Purchased by the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program

Owned by the University of Pennsylvania

At A Glance

  • Tony Smith is an American artist and architect best known for his abstract, modular sculptures

  • Artwork is an open cube of steel painted black with two inverted U shapes joined together at their tips

  • First exhibited along with three other works by Smith for a 1967 Institute for Contemporary Art exhibition

  • Purchased by the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program

Considered a pioneering figure in Minimalism, Tony Smith is an American artist and architect best known for his abstract, modular sculptures created in the 1960s and 1970s. His We Lost is a hulking open cube of welded steel painted black that stands on the front lawn of the University of Pennsylvania’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology. Its two inverted U shapes, joined together at their tips, can be walked through but also create a boxed-in feeling.

Tony Smith's painted black steel "We Lost" sculpture in grass
Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art

We Lost was first exhibited as part of the Institute for Contemporary Art’s “Art for the City” – a 1967 exhibition that sought to give artists an opportunity to think beyond the traditional gallery environment and audience while encouraging city officials to consider contemporary art for public projects. Four black, starkly geometric pieces by Tony Smith were placed on the Municipal Services Building Plaza; of these, We Lost was later purchased by the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program, with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The sculpture was originally installed in Blanche Levy Park near 36th Street and Locust Walk in 1975, and was relocated to its current placement in 2013.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

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