Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation 1997.137.1
Smith's work is related to the simplified geometric forms in the minimalist art of the 1960s, but was also strongly influenced by the artist's early career as an architect. The structure of Moondog is based on the lattice motif that Smith used as the building block for a spare yet complex formal and expressive language. Indeed, while Moondog is a logical geometric configuration (fifteen extended octahedrons plus ten tetrahedrons), from certain viewpoints it has a startling tilt, conveying 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, intending to "cast the piece in bronze as a garden sculpture," which he did in 1970. Smith himself planned the large scale edition of Moondog, although it was not produced in his lifetime.