"Die", a sculpture by minimalist artist Tony Smith.
A 2003 blurb from the New York Times relates the acquisition of the above work of art:
By Carol Vogel
Published: May 2, 2003
A Tony Smith Finds a Home
The National Gallery of Art in Washington has just acquired Tony Smith's first steel sculpture: ''Die,'' created in 1962 and fabricated in 1968.
''It's a seminal icon of postwar American art,'' said Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery. ''While we have many examples of Smith's sculptures, we don't have a work of this stature.''
The piece, which experts say is worth about $700,000, was purchased by the Collector's Committee, a group of patrons that has been financing acquisitions since 1975.
The gallery bought the sculpture from Paula Cooper, the Chelsea dealer, who had owned it since the artist's death in 1980. Previously it was in his backyard, in South Orange, N.J. Ms. Cooper said she had been looking for a good home for ''Die'' for years. ''It shows the humanist and spiritual side of the artist,'' she said.
Smith, who had been an architect for 20 years, began producing sculpture in 1960, and much of it grew out of his architecture. The form of ''Die'' was inspired by an index card file, the gallery said. Smith's instructions for fabrication were: ''a six-foot cube of quarter-inch hot-rolled steel with diagonal internal bracing.'' He said that anything larger would have implied the work was a monument and anything smaller would have made it a mere object.
There are four casts of ''Die.'' Two were produced during Smith's lifetime -- this piece and one that belongs to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Two others were cast posthumously. One belongs to a collector in Philadelphia and the other to the Museum of Modern Art.
Let's get this straight. "Die" is a 6' square steel cube, actually welded out of steel plate by some nameless welder according to the "artist's" instructions, something like an architect's drawings for a building being used for its construction by inartistic dolt carpenters. We mention it because of the recent news about Tony Smith's friend and abstract artist Mark Rothko, the defacement of one of his works at the Tate Gallery in London and the purchase of another for the newish Crystal Bridges Gallery in Bentonville, Arkansas.