David Smith

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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).

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Smith, David (Roland)

(1906–65) sculptor; born in Decatur, Ind. He studied at Ohio University (1924–25), worked as an assembler in a car factory, moved to New York City (1926), and studied at the Art Students League (1927–32) with John Sloan among others. He was influenced by the welded sculptures of Picasso, and by 1933, he was producing his acclaimed welded steel series, such as Tank Totem V (1955–56). After travel in Europe, the Middle East, and Russia (1935–36), he established a studio at the Terminal Iron Works, a shipfitting establishment in Brooklyn, settled in Bolton Landing, N.Y. (1938), and continued the Voltri-Bolton, Zig, and Cubi series. He died in an automobile accident in Vermont.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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