Sarah Hamill: Fictions of Autonomy

Public Programs

Cubi I, 1963
Photo: David Smith, courtesy The Estate of David Smith, New York

Sarah Hamill: Fictions of Autonomy

David Smith's Photography and the Display of Modern Sculpture

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 4:30 PM

Sarah Hamill, an assistant professor at Oberlin College who has written extensively on David Smith, talks about the artist’s photographs of his own sculptures in this lecture.

David Smith began photographing his sculptures in the 1940s, and the resulting images were frequently published in catalogues, newspapers, and magazines. Until recently, these photographs have been seen as transparent illustrations of his work. This talk explores how Smith used his camera—exploiting its vantage point, setting, and frame—to structure specific pictorial encounters with his three-dimensional objects. In his photographs, Smith’s sculptures are imagined as individual, autonomous things—images of monumentality that connect Smith to other modern sculptors who photographed their work.

Hamill, who specializes in modern and contemporary art, has written extensively on David Smith, including an essay on Smith's photography for the 2011 Phillips Collection catalogue David Smith Invents and a monograph on the artist, David Smith: Works, Writings, Interviews (Ediciones Poligrafa). Her research explores the intersections between sculpture and photography, the politics of display, and contemporary photography and materiality. She is working on a book-length study of Smith’s photography, David Smith in Two Dimensions: Sculpture, Photography, and Space to be published by the University of California Press. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute in 2009–2010. Hamill has presented her research at the Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Phillips Collection, and other venues.

Cosponsored by Ohio State’s Department of History of Art.

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

Reserve your tickets now for Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection, on view through Dec 31. Learn more about the exhibition.

Artists featured in Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection

Learn more about the artists represented in Transfigurations at our dedicated website. (Educators will also find curriculum resources to support their K–12 classrooms.)