Art Type
Media / Materials
Year Completed
1962, fabricated 2005
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of John and Mary Pappajohn, 2015.25
Latitude & Longitude
41.585041, -93.636391
Location Description


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“Willy” is one of Smith’s important early large-scale works and masterfully combines abstract geometric forms with human characteristics. “Willy” involves complex polyhedral shapes. The flat black planes of steel twist into each other, suggesting an anthropomorphic (or human) form. The title comes from a Samuel Beckett play “Happy Days” (1961), in which the character “Willie” crawls submissively around his wife, who is buried waist deep in mud.

The painted steel sculpture’s overall dimensions are 91 1/4 × 224 × 135 in., 4000 lb. (231.8 × 569 × 342.9 cm., 1814.4 kg.)

It is signed on the metal plate on bottom of sculpture: “T. SMITH WILLY 1962 A.P. LIPPINCOTT/ MERRIFIELD-ROBERTS, 2005”