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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Sculpture: 20th century: She Who Must Be Obeyed
She Who Must Be Obeyed


She Who Must Be Obeyed
1975
Tony Smith
assembled and painted fiberboard
20 5/8 x 30 3/4 x 11 1/2 in. (52.3 x 78.1 x 29.2 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program
1979.159.21
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She Who Must Be Obeyed in situ

"I always like to look at the sites in the dark because I feel that a lot of the detail is eliminated, and you can grasp the major features better." Tony Smith, quoted in Donald Thalacker, The Place of Art in the World of Architecture, 1980

In March 1974 the General Services Administration commissioned Tony Smith to make a sculpture for the Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. A few months later the artist was ready to present this maquette to the GSA Design Review Panel for final approval. Smith was concerned with getting the model safely from his studio in New Jersey to Washington, and carefully wrapped it and carried it like "a newborn child" (Thalacker, The Place of Art in the World of Architecture, 1980). The maquette had its own seat on the plane and arrived safely at National Airport. Smith hailed a taxi, and the driver, insisting that the model would be safer in the trunk than on the seat, slammed the trunk lid on one of its edges. Despite the damage to the model, the GSA panelists unanimously approved his design. Smith often titled his pieces after literary works, and this maquette was named after the central character in H. Rider Haggard's 1887 novel She. The completed sculpture was installed in 1976 and measures 30 by 24 by 8 feet.


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