David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy
This is the first major thematic exhibition devoted to the work of David Smith (1906-65). Throughout his career, what Smith called "basic geometric form" was a powerful touchstone. Cubes and Anarchy offers a fresh interpretation of Smith, revealing geometric abstraction as a leitmotif deeply connected to the artist's self-definition as a workingman and his need to reconcile that, through his interest in constructivism, with his identity as a modern artist.
The exhibition brings together over 100 works, including the largest grouping of Smith's monumental Cubis and Zigs brought together in more than twenty-five years. Cubes and Anarchyplaces these masterpieces in context with the artist's earlier works for the first time. The show includes sculptures, drawings, paintings and photographs, many provided by the Estate of David Smith, including revelatory sketchbooks and photos, only a few of which have been exhibited previously.
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. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The installation was designed by Levin & Associates Architects, Brenda A. Levin FAIA.
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy will travel to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio where it will be on view January 28–April 15, 2012.
Image: Ziv IV, Painted steel, 1961, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Lipman, © Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York, Photo by David Heald, courtesy The Estate of David Smith.
This video excerpt comes from David Smith: Sculpting Master of Bolton Landing, the filmed interview of David Smith with Frank O'Hara from the series Art New York, produced by Colin Clark, (associate producer William Berkson), and directed by Bruce Minnix, for Channel 13/WNDT-TV, c. 1964. First televised 11 November 1964. 16mm., color, 29 minutes. Permission courtesy of the David Smith Estate and Maureen Granville-Smith, executor of the Estate of Frank O'Hara.
Having selected all the works that are on view in David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, it’s hard for me to talk about “a favorite”…and yet there are definitely individual pieces in the show that I have completely fallen in love with. One in particular is Tanktotem VII of 1960...
A product of the “Steel Age,” David Smith’s medium was of the grand skyscrapers, suspension bridges stretching over waterways, the vast railroad system that had etched its steel lines into the American landscape. This was one of the mediums through which the language of modernity would coalesce. No DC Comics superhero! Steel, David Smith said, “possesses little art history. Its associations are primarily of this century, it is structure, movement, progress, suspension, cantilever, and at times destruction and brutality...”