New York, Welded Abstract Sculpture

David Smith was a leading-edge modernist, who created large-scale sculptures in styles ranging from Cubist, Surrealist, and Constructivist.  Much of his importance to art historians is the fact that in his sculptures, he pioneered the style of Cubism known as “drawing in space”, and sculpture methods including the creation of large-scale works, welding and the use of industrial materials.

His work emphasized energy and movement, which aligned him with the Abstract Expressionists, especially gestural painters such as Jackson Pollock.  Many of these abstracted forms had personal meaning and were comments on social and political issues.  As the first recognized American sculptor to employ welding techniques, he was inspired by seeing pictures of welded pieces by Pablo Picasso, Julio Gonzales, and Alberto Giacometti. Members of the Parisian avant-garde were also influential on his work, especially his friend, John Graham, and Stuart Davis, and Arshile Gorky whom he met through Graham.

In the spring of 2006, a retrospective to commemorate the 100th birthday of Smith was held at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum.  Titled David Smith: A Centennial, it was curated by the Guggenheim in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern, which also hosted the exhibition.

For more information about David Smith and to see samples of his work visit The Estate of David Smith, New York website at URL: http://www.davidsmithestate.org.

Source: Stephen May, “David Smith: A Centennial Opens at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum”, Antiques and The Arts Weekly, February 24, 2006, pp. 48-49; Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art; and Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

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