Overview

David Smith worked as a welder in a car factory as a young man. Later, he emerged as a sculptor within the context of the New York School in the 1940s and 1950s, and applied his industrial skills to his art-making practice. He said of his preferred medium, welded steel: "The metal itself possesses little art history. What associations it possesses are those of this century: power, structure, movement, progress, suspension, brutality." Smith most often created works in series, culminating in the 1960s with his celebrated "Cubis" sculptures made of cubic or cylindrical shapes precisely crafted, assembled, and polished by the artist. "I depend a great deal on the reflective power of light," he said. Compare the elongated, laterally reaching components of Cubi XXVI with the massing of heavier forms in Cubi XI made two years earlier.

Inscription

on top of bar projecting from cube: David Smith / January 12 1965 / CUBI XXVI

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

The artist [1906-1965], Bolton Landing, New York; Phillip and Helen B. Stern, Washington, D.C.; purchased 1978 by NGA.

Exhibition History
1966
David Smith, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, 1966.
1975
Sculpture: American Directions, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, 1975, unnumbered checklist
1982
David Smith: Seven Major Themes, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982-1983, p. 223, repro.
1983
Twentieth Century Painting and Modern Sculpture, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Japan, 1983.
1986
David Smith: Skulpturen - Zeichnungen, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Federal Republic of Germany; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England, 1986-1987.
1995
The Spirit of American Sculpture: American Art Museum Collections [Twentieth Century American Sculpture at The White House, Exhibition II], The White House, Washington, D.C., 1995, unnumbered brochure, repro.
Bibliography
1966
Greenberg, Clement. "David Smith." Art In America 54 (January 1966): 27-32
1971
Krauss, Rosalind E. Terminal Iron Works. Cambridge, 1971.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 36, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 651, no. 1032, repro.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 44, repro.
1989
Strick, Jeremy. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture: Selections for the Tenth Anniversary of the East Building. Washington, D.C., 1989: repro. 104, 105.
1994
Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 220, repro.
1995
Marshall, Albert. "A Study of the Surfaces of David Smith's Sculpture." in Studies in the History of Art 51 (1995): 97, 101.
2000
Torres, Louis and Michelle Marder Kamhi. What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand. Peru, Illinois, 2000: 410, nt. 196
2013
Cigola, Francesca. Art Parks: A Tour of America’s Sculpture Parks and Gardens. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2013: 101.
Technical Summary

Related Works
Related Resources
  • Event Type
    Event Name
    March 1–June 1
    Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
    March 5, 2012 at 2:00
    March 7, 2012 at 4:00
    East Building, Auditorium
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    60 minutes
    Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
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    Italian Collection
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