Please wait

David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy

Oct 6, 2011–Jan 8, 2012

David Smith (1906–1965), Zig III, 1961 (detail). Painted steel, 93 x 124 x 61 inches (236.2 x 315.0 x 154.9 cm). The Estate of David Smith, New York; courtesy Gagosian Gallery. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

David Smith (1906–1965), Zig III, 1961 (detail). Painted steel, 93 × 124 × 61 inches (236.2 × 315.0 × 154.9 cm). The Estate of David Smith, New York; courtesy Gagosian Gallery. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

A fresh look at the work of the great American sculptor David Smith (1906–1965), Cubes and Anarchy offers new insights into the artist’s career-long involvement with geometric forms. Traditionally, the simplified geometry of Smith's monumental Cubi and Zig sculptures of the 1960s has been seen as a departure from the Surrealist and Expressionistic tendencies of his earlier work. Cubes and Anarchy reveals the artist’s iconic late masterpieces to be continuations of his long-standing explanation of geometric abstraction. The show includes over fifty sculptures, drawings, and paintings, as well as rarely-seen sketchbooks and photographs. Following its presentation at the Whitney, David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy will travel to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. 

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Major support for the Whitney’s presentation is provided by the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Works from the Exhibition

David Smith (1906–1965), 17 h’s, 1950. Painted steel, 44 ½ x 29 × 12 ½ inches (113 × 73.7 × 31.8 cm). The Estate of David Smith. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York. Photograph by David Heald; courtesy The Estate of David Smith
David Smith (1906–1965), Tanktotem IX, 1960. Painted steel, 90 × 33 × 24 1/8 inches (214.6 × 94 × 35.9 cm). Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York. Photograph by David Heald; courtesy The Estate of David Smith
David Smith (1906–1965), Lectern Sentinel, 1961. Stainless steel, 101 3/4 × 33 × 20 1/2 inches (258.5 × 83.8 × 52.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art  62.15. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York
David Smith (1906–1965), Blue Construction, 1938. Sheet steel with baked-enamel finish, 36 ¼ x 28 ½ x 30 in. (92.1 × 72.4 × 76.2 cm). The Estate of David Smith; courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington. © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photograph courtesy The Estate of David Smith
David Smith (1906–1965), Cubi I, 1963. Stainless steel, 124 × 34 ½ x 33 ½ in. (315 × 87.6 × 85.1 cm). Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Special Purchase Fund. © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photograph © Detroit Institute of Arts/licensed by The Bridgeman Art Library
David Smith (1906–1965), The Hero, 1951–1952. Painted steel, 73 ¾ x 25 ½ x 11 ¾ in. (187.2 × 64.8 × 29.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund. © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York. Photograph courtesy Brooklyn Museum of Art

Installation Photography

Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson
Installation view of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012). © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New  York, N.Y. Photography by Jerry L. Thompson

Related Events

PreviousNext

Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the book considers geometry in Smith's sculpture as both a formal and thematic construct. Essays by leading curators and scholars explore the relationship between Smith's lifelong interest in the utopian optimism of the avant-garde and his own artistic identity. The book includes illustrations of more than fifty sculptures, along with drawings, paintings, and vintage photographs by the artist.

This catalogue is no longer available at the Museum Shop

View current publications