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Untitled

1958–1959
Steel and unidentified metal, painted
77.9 x 42.9 x 13.7 cm /
30 5/8 x 16 7/8 x 5 3/8 in

David Smith

One of the foremost artists of the twentieth century and the sculptor most closely linked to the Abstract Expressionist movement, David Smith is known for his use of industrial methods and materials, and the integration of open space into sculpture. Over a 33-year career, Smith greatly expanded the notion of what sculpture could be, questioning its relationship with the space it was created in and its final habitat; from the artist’s atelier and art foundry into the realms of industry and nature.

Untitled

‘Untitled’ (1958-1959) is a powerfully charged work that exemplifies the complexity of David Smith’s sculpture of the 1950s. Refusing to narrow the content, imagery, or style of his work, the 1950s saw Smith expand his aesthetic interests in multiple directions. Simultaneously whimsical and austere, organic and geometric, ‘Untitled’ makes reference to a vast repository of sources, which include tribal art, classical antiquity and the Surrealist object. Employing industrial materials and modern technologies such as welding, Smith’s sculpture challenged the limits of traditional sculpture, opening a dialogue between sculptural mass and open space, figuration and abstraction. At a time that saw Smith preoccupied with such diverse series as the ‘Tanktotems’ (1952-1960) and ‘Albanys’ (1959-1962), ‘Untitled’ stands apart as an independent statement, an expressional need that was not being met by Smith’s other sculptural bodies of work.

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Celebrating Basel Basel

A major retrospective of titled ‘David Smith 1906 – 1965’ travelled to Kunsthalle Basel in 1966—just one year after the artist’s death—making the posthumous survey integral to establishing the artist as a master of contemporary sculpture in Europe, where it was presented at Tate Gallery in London and the Rijksmuseum, among many other venues.

‘Wagon I’ is pictured outside in the courtyard, and the exhibition included other major works such as ‘The Banquet’ and ‘Sentinel III’.