David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy

Exhibitions

Big Diamond, 1952
Photo courtesy the Memorial Art Gallery the University of Rochester

David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy

Sat, Jan 28, 2012Sun, Apr 15, 2012
Repeats every week every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun Apr 15 2012 .

See this famed sculptor’s art from a different angle in an exhibition the Columbus Dispatch called "compelling, thought-provoking…thrilling to behold."

David Smith’s work is often considered a three-dimensional counterpart to abstract expressionist painting. Cubes and Anarchy offers an alternative interpretation, which traces Smith’s use of geometry from the beginning of his career in the 1930s up to his untimely death in 1965. The exhibition also examines Smith’s self-identification as a working man and his need to reconcile that sense of himself with his equally strong identity as a modern artist.

Cubes and Anarchy offers "a rare opportunity to see an extensive selection of some of Smith’s best work" (Columbus Dispatch), bringing together approximately 80 works, including such monumental sculptures as Zig III (1961), Primo Piano (1962), and Cubi I (1963). Placing these famed late works in context with earlier sculptures, works on paper, paintings, photographs, and sketchbooks—many of which have never been exhibited—invites viewers to consider the presence of geometry as a leitmotif throughout Smith’s career. The exhibition premiered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has also been seen at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The Wexner Center is its final tour stop.

Long recognized as a seminal figure in the development of 20th-century sculpture, Smith was born in Decatur, Indiana, in 1906, attended high school in Paulding, Ohio, and studied art at Ohio University for one year. In 1926 he moved to New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League. After establishing his studio in a foundry on the Brooklyn waterfront in the 1930s, Smith moved in 1940 to Bolton Landing, on Lake George in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. He showed regularly in New York City beginning in 1938 and already by the 1940s was championed by critic Clement Greenberg; in the 1950s Smith developed friendships with abstract expressionist painters, including Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline. Smith’s sculptures were exhibited not only across the United States but also internationally, including in the Venice Biennale (1958), the São Paulo Bienal (1959), and Documenta (1964). His work in the early 1960s brought Smith to the forefront of international recognition. Smith died in an automobile accident in 1965, at the age of 59.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and made possible by Alice and Nahum Lainer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Gagosian Gallery, and the Steven F. Roth Family Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Steaven K. and Judith G. Jones Foundation, Myron Laskin, Agnes Gund, Dorothy R. Sherwood, Terri and Michael Smooke, the Dedalus Foundation, Ellie and Mark Lainer, and the Lipman Family Foundation.

Its presentation at the Wexner Center is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and a generous grant from the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation.

Click through for complete image credits.

Image credits:
1)
David Smith
Big Diamond, 1952
Painted steel
28 1/8 x 27 5/8 x 8 7/8 inches
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester; The Charles Rand Penney Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery.
© Estate of David Smith / VAGA, New York
Photo courtesy the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

2)
David Smith
Untitled, 1947
Oil on canvas
9 x 12 inches
The Estate of David Smith
© Estate of David Smith / VAGA, New York
Photo: Robert McKeever, courtesy Gagosian Gallery

3)
David Smith
Cubi I, 1963
Stainless steel
124 x 34 1/2 x 33 1/2 inches
Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Special Purchase Fund
© The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York
Photo: David Smith, courtesy The Estate of David Smith

4)
David Smith
Sentinel II, 1956–57
Stainless steel
71 3/8 x 14 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966
© Estate of David Smith / VAGA, New York
Photo: Lee Stalsworth, courtesy the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

5)
David Smith
Untitled (on ship), c. 1932–35
Gelatin silver print
9 9/16 x 6 7/8 inches
The Estate of David Smith
© Estate of David Smith / VAGA, New York
Photo courtesy The Estate of David Smith, photo by David Smith

6)
David Smith
Blue Construction, 1938
Sheet steel with baked-enamel finish
36 1/4 x 28 1/2 x 30 inches
The Estate of David Smith, courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
© The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York
Photo courtesy the Estate of David Smith, NY

7)
David Smith
Untitled, 1961
Stainless steel
12 x 10 x 3 inches
The Estate of David Smith
© Estate of David Smith / VAGA, New York
Photo: Robert McKeever, courtesy Gagosian Gallery

8)
David Smith
Untitled, 1963
Spray enamel on paper
14 x 19 inches
Jon and Mary Shirley
© The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York
Photo courtesy The Estate of David Smith, NY

Viewing Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection

The Wex is closed Thu, Dec 25, and Thu, Jan 1, but our galleries will be open Fri, Dec 26, through Tue, Dec 30, 10 AM–8 PM. Learn more about our holiday hours here.

Jean Dubuffet, Vaches au pre (Cows in a meadow), 1954

Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection closes Dec 31. Don't miss the exhibition artnet named among the world's 25 "must-see shows."

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