Small Town, Big Sculpture
For a town of only 17,000, South Orange has a surprisingly
rich tradition in the arts, including public art. Visitors and residents
will want to view TAU, a monumental sculpture by South Orange native
Tony Smith, in Meadowland Park. Located near the corner of Ridgewood
Road and Mead Street, TAU is owned by The Village of South Orange and is
viewable at all times at no cost.
TAU in Spring. Photo by Nancy Heins-Glaser
Tau (1961 - 62)
Fabricated 2005, Installed in Meadowland Park 2008 Black painted
steel, 14 feet by 21 feet by 12 feet, a gift of Jane Smith to the Village of South
TAU is representative of Tony Smith’s bold, geometric work
from the 1960s. The original model for the sculpture
was created using small cardboard tetrahedrons (four-sided triangles or
pyramids) that were taped together and later enlarged and plated in
TAU has an organic, architectural presence in its natural surroundings. Notice how the geometric shapes and angles,
and even the color of the sculpture, change depending on the season, the time of day, and where you are standing
South Orange native Tony Smith was one of the most influential sculptors of the twentieth century. He began painting in the 1930s, then trained as an architectural designer in the Chicago offices of Frank Lloyd Wright.
During the 40s and 50s, Smith continued to paint, aligning himself with the Abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko.
Tony Smith in 1966, with plywood mock-ups that often populated the backyard of the family home on Stanley Road in South Orange.
But it was sculpture, which he turned to in the early 1960s, that
catapulted Smith to international fame. In the mid-sixties he appeared
on the cover of TIME Magazine under the title “Master of the
Momumentalists.” In 1998, The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a
of his work.
Smith was born into a third generation South Orange
His grandfather, Anthony Peter Smith, founded a waterworks company in
East Orange. His mother’s family owned a boiler factory in Newark.
1955, Smith and his wife Jane settled into the original family home on
Stanley Road in the Montrose section of town, where they raised their
daughters Kiki, Seton, and Beatrice. Smith lived and worked there, often
building plywood mock-ups of sculptures in his back yard, until his
death in 1980.
Meadowland Park’s TAU by Tony Smith is
owned by the Village of South Orange and its residents. The installation
was made possible by the generous support of Jane Smith, The Village of
South Orange, as well as individual donors through The Pierro
Foundation. Fundraising efforts for maintenance and improvement of the
and site, as well as educational programming, are ongoing. For more
information about Tony Smith and TAU, visit his website.