Saturday, December 24, 2011

“David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy” At The Whitney Museum

Sculptor David Smith is strongly associated with the abstract expressionists, as he used welded metal to suggest the gestures and slashes of the New York School painters. “David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy” at the Whitney Museum demonstrates that he also employed geometric forms from the start. The show unnecessarily starts with Smith’s geometric work from the 1960s and moves backwards; it would have provided greater context had it started with the precursors rather than the culminating sculptures (including, above, "Cubi XXI," 1964, and "Cubi I," 1963, both stainless steel). Such precursors include 1950s work reminiscent of African totems (see "The Hero," 1951-1952), which influenced many artists at the time. Still, the exhibit broadens our conception of this major 20th century American sculptor.

David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy” continues through January 8, 2012, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 954 Madison Ave. at 75th St., NYC. (Listen to an audio guide of the exhibit.)

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