David Smith

  • Born 1906 in Decatur, IN, USA
  • Died 1956 in Shaftsbury, VT, USA

David Smith was an Abstract Expressionist best remembered for his large steel sculptures. After moving to New York in 1927, he studied painting at the Art Students League. Smith often supported himself by welding and riveting, skills that later figured in his work. In 1929 he learned about Picasso's Project for Sculpture (1928) and met the painter John Graham (1886–1961), who introduced him to several avant-garde painters and to the work of metal sculptor Julio González (1886–1942). Smith made his first welded metal sculptures in 1933 and committed himself to sculpture from 1935 onward. His “Medals of Dishonor” series (1937–40) was inspired by his travels in Europe and Russia. In 1938 he had his first solo show and his sculpture Head (1938) was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. After he received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1950, his works expanded in scale and became more abstract; he later added color to some works. In 1962 the Italian government invited him to create 27 sculptures for the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto. A retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum traveled to the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and Tate Modern, London (2006–07).

Artworks by David Smith in the exhibition