David Smith, considered the greatest American sculptor of the 20th century, is the subject of a new exhibit opening April 3 at LACMA's Resnick Pavilion. That's almost poignant. He died in a car accident in 1965 (at the age of 59) during the planning of a major exhibit for the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which opened on Wilshire Boulevard that year. Thursday is the 46th anniversary of LACMA's debut.
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy is the first West Coast exhibition of his work since then.
Born in Indiana in 1906, Smith worked as a welder and riveter at a Studebaker auto factory while attending college. He later moved to New York City to study art and was heavily influenced by Pablo Picasso and Cubism, Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and Spanish artist Joan Miró. When Smith saw images of Picasso's iron constructions in 1932 he realized that he could use his welding skill and knowledge of industrial materials for making art.
Smith, who preferred to work with steel, iron, and aluminum, has "often been presented as a counterpart to the abstract expressionist painters or as a draftsman in space." The welder from Indiana befriended many other prominent artists, including Adolph Gottlieb and Milton Avery in the 1930's and Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline in the 1950's.
The new exhibit was designed by Brenda Levin, more known for her work as a preservation architect. She discusses the project on LACMA's blog. "David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy" runs through July 24.
All photos by Judy Graeme