This major exhibition of work by the great American artist David Smith (1906–1965) features more than 50 sculptures, drawn from four decades, beginning with Smith’s earliest experimental works from the 1930s, through to the bold, large-scale statements of the 1960s.
The first American artist to work with welded metal, Smith was hugely influential to the development of international abstract sculpture, and is regarded as the principal sculptor of the American Abstract Expressionists. With few works in non-US public collections, he is relatively rarely seen or shown in Europe and this project is the most significant since Tate Modern’s in 2006. For YSP, which marries superb galleries and landscape with scholarship and rigorous curation, the exhibition marks a milestone in a series of critically acclaimed monograph exhibitions by eminent sculptors that include Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Eduardo Chillida and Joan Miró.
Important sculptures and works on paper show the development of Smith’s sculptural practice, and the importance of his life at Bolton Landing in upstate New York; it includes works and artefacts from Smith’s home which have not previously been seen and works that have not been seen for many decades. Smith aligned himself to an anthropological trajectory, embracing the creative continuity that connects humanity across millennia, connecting to an ancient tradition of making and fettling.
This exhibition examines the immediacy of his sculpture; its sometimes obdurate, sometimes tactile nature; its shared space with man, machine, and natural forms; and the social/human impulse through which Smith developed abstraction from the automotive factory and foundry. The exhibition draws out Smith’s understanding of the social practice of art – vividly illustrated by his 1930s Medals of Dishonor and 1955 lecture, The Artist in Society, and of his belief in an outward-facing, international United States that valued its connectedness to the wider world.
Find out more about the exhibition by listening to our audio guide and watch this film:
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
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