Sarah Hamill’s recent talk at the museum on how and why David Smith’s photographs matter inspired this comparison. Consider the photographs below of the museum’s Bouquet of Concaves (1959). The photo on the left was was taken by Smith; the one on the right one wasn’t.
David Smith’s study of moving forms and dancers, in particular choreographer Martha Graham, served as the inspiration for the recent public program–Making Shapes in Space: David Smith and Dance. Kelly Mayfield, artistic director of Contradiction Dance, choreographed a response to the energy and movement of the sculptures in David Smith Invents.
Compare the company’s interpretation of Bouquet of Concaves to the sculpture in the Phillips. What’s your take on this cross-disciplinary collaboration?
If you’re interested in more photos from the performance, check out our Flickr set.
I was getting ready to give tours in David Smith Invents, and discovered this quote, which I love, from a 1983 Time magazine article by Smith’s friend and painter Robert Motherwell, “Oh David, you were as delicate as Vivaldi and as strong as a Mack truck.”
Smith certainly had the credentials to be the Paul Bunyan of steel. His grandfather was a blacksmith. As a young man, he worked in an automobile factory and later a locomotive factory. He drove a pick-up truck, lived in the country, and he pushed heavy pieces of metal around to make sculpture.
Incredibly (to me), this strapping figure was an artist. Not that many other artists didn’t descend from the same macho vein (Jackson Pollock leaps to mind). Smith welded farm equipment, industrial components and discarded metal objects, and he created steel poems. He was also quite eloquent, in the catalogue for the exhibition at the Phillips, he describes his artistic process: “Sometimes when I start a sculpture I begin with only a realized part; the rest is travel to be unfolded, much in the order of a dream.”
Check out the full TIME article “Art: Iron Was In His Name” by Robert Hughes here.