David Smith

David Smith

Smith, David, 1906-65, American sculptor, b. Decatur, Ind. He arrived in New York City in 1926 and studied painting at the Art Students League. In the 1930s he began experimenting with sculpture and after 1935 he worked primarily in this medium. His mature works, in wrought iron and cut steel and often monumental in scale, exhibit abstract geometrical imagery and constructivist diagramming of space. Smith's sculptures were often created in series, e.g., Agricola (1952), Forging (1955), Zigs (1961), and Voltri (1962). His open constructions, such as Hudson River Landscape (Ogunquit Mus., Maine), stress the play of sculptural silhouettes against directional lines. Other works include abstract variations of natural subjects, such as Cockfight (Whitney Mus., New York City), and open, totemlike forms that frequently incorporate miscellaneous "found" objects.

See R. E. Krauss, Terminal Ironworks: The Sculpture of David Smith (1971); studies by K. Wilkin (1984), I. Sandler et al. (1999), and S. Nash and C. Smith (2005).

(born March 9, 1906, Decatur, Ind., U.S.—died May 23, 1965, Albany, N.Y.) U.S. sculptor. He learned to work with metal while employed at an automobile plant. In 1926 he went to New York City and took various jobs while studying painting at the Art Students League. His sculptures grew out of his abstract paintings, to which he attached so many bits of wood, metal, and found objects that they became virtual bases for sculptural superstructures. He became the first U.S. artist to make welded metal sculpture. In 1940 he moved to Bolton Landing, N.Y., and there made his large yet seemingly weightless metal sculptures until his death in a car crash. His abstract biomorphic and geometric forms are remarkable for their erratic inventiveness, stylistic diversity, and high aesthetic quality. His work greatly influenced Minimalist sculpture in the 1960s.

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  • David Smith, ex-husband of Susan Smith and author of a book about the deaths of their sons

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  • David E. Smith (born 1939), American doctor specializing in addiction medicine

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