One of the foremost artists of the twentieth century and the sculptor most closely linked to the Abstract Expressionist movement, David Smith is known for his use of industrial methods and materials, and the integration of open space into sculpture. Over a 33-year career, Smith greatly expanded the notion of what sculpture could be, questioning its relationship with the space it was created in and its final habitat; from the artist’s atelier and art foundry into the realms of industry and nature. Spanning pure abstraction and poetic figuration, Smith’s deeply humanist vision has inspired generations of sculptors for the decades since his death.Read More
Born in 1906 in Decatur, Indiana, Smith worked as an automobile welder and riveter before moving to New York to study at the Art Students League. In 1929 he bought a farm in Bolton Landing, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York–an idyllic location where he would settle permanently in 1940 and with which he would be forever associated. When Smith died suddenly at the age of 59 in a tragic car accident, he left behind an expansive, complex and powerful body of work that continues to exert influence upon younger generations of artists today. He is widely acknowledged to have created the first welded metal sculpture in America.
Painting and drawing remained integral to Smith’s creative output throughout his career. ‘Drawings,’ he claimed, ‘are studies for sculpture, sometimes what sculpture is, sometimes what sculpture never can be.’ Around 1958, almost immediately after the invention of the aerosol spray can, Smith began his Sprays. Made simultaneously with some of his most rigorously geometric sculpture, the Sprays are often loosely gestural. Though the Sprays freed Smith’s form from the sculptural constraints of gravity, for Smith the two mediums were conceptually continuous. With the Sprays, Smith adopted a medium that was developed from, and perfectly aligned with, his sculptural process, encapsulating the overlap between between his two- and three-dimensional activities.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.
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