Sunday, April 24, 2011

American Sculpture Liberated....Cubes and Anarchy ...David Smith...the Archetypical Abstract Expressionist Sculptor

    Cubes and Anarchy...the exhibition of David Smith's sculpture and other artwork at LACMA in Los Angeles through July 24,2011 is the first major exhibit of Smith's art on the West Coast in almost half a century.LACMA celebrated its 46th anniversary with the return of David Smith also after 46 years...the exhibit now in the Resnick Pavilion is a poignant remembrance of the major exhibit of his work at the newly opened LACMA  in 1965 during the planning of which Smith died when his truck rolled over near Bennington, Vermont.Smith was only 59...but he left a monumental body of work, and he is now considered the greatest American sculptor of the 20th century.


David Smith established sculpture on par with painting in America, and although his burly blacksmith's build has led some people to romanticize him as a kind of blue-collar modernist,he was,like Jackson Pollock, an intensely lyrical artist who possessed extraordinary visual intelligence.

With the elevated physical and metaphysical scale of his sculpture, Smith drew in space with a fierce joy.He became increasingly absorbed with making "series of work" such as the "Cubis" which he made before his death...they are probably the most famous  abstract sculpture of the postwar period.As one critic has said, the "Cubis" seem "more alive than most figurative sculpture does"...made of burnished stainless steel,"the shapes have a surface dazzle that can transform mass into light".

Smith remarked on his sculptural lyricism....
                     "The poetic vision in sculpture is fully as free as in
                      painting. Like a painting, sculpture now deals in the
                      illusion of form as well as its own particular property
                      of form itself."

"There is no conceptual difference between painting and sculpture....The position of creating does not change...just because the medium changes."

"Sometimes when I start a sculpture I begin with only a realized
part; the rest is travel to be unfolded, much in the order of a dream."

"Sculptors are not supposed to paint even painters think so except for Matisse+Picasso - but sculptors are always for painters sculpture...."
As critic Frank O'Hara observed in 1961, Smith's sculpture is "never sculpture being painting, it is sculpture looking at painting and responding in its own fashion."

"Art is made from dreams, and visions, and things not known, and least of all from things that can be said. It comes from the inside of who you are when you face yourself. It is an inner declaration of purpose, it is a factor which determines artist identity." 
~David Smith

"Form doesn't need to be full rounded...permitting the sculpture on a whole to have varying and different aesthetic purposes."
"I will not change an error if it feels right, for the error is more human than perfection."

Along with the David Smith exhibit, abstract expressionist artist, Davyd Whaley and I had lunch at LACMA's new upscale restaurant,Ray's...named after the late Hollywood producer and LACMA Board Member, Ray Stark.....
Davyd's response to the hysterical menu items,including "ramps",was "You've got to be kidding! can keep the "ramps"...I'll just have a hamburger!"....very pricey...and barely edible...try Marie Calender's down on Wilshire.....

For further reading:  1.David Smith Invents, Susan Behrends Frank, The Phillips Collection and Yale
                                    University Press.
                                  2.David Smith, Personage, Alex Potts, Gagosian Gallery.
                                  3.David Smith, Related Clues, Drawings, Paintings & Sculpture, 1931-1964,
                                     Gagosian Gallery.

The Artist in All His Dimensions                          

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