This summer Hauser & Wirth Zürich celebrates the work of the late American sculptor, painter and draughtsman, David Smith (1906 – 1965). Recognised for his pioneering contribution to sculpture in the 20th century, Smith transformed the innovations of European modernism into a richly diverse new artistic language. Throughout his 33-year career he expanded the notion of what sculpture could be and its relationship to space, while also changing the site of its production, and ultimately our experience of it, from the artist’s atelier and foundry towards the realms of industry and nature.
Traversing pure abstraction and poetic figuration, Smith’s humanist vision has inspired generations of sculptors for over 50 years since his death. Working as an automobile welder and riveter before moving to New York to study at the Art Students League, he combined his skill and interest in industrial processes with an exploration into the form and potential of sculpture in the field of contemporary art. This new exhibition at Hauser & Wirth marks the gallery’s first presentation of Smith’s work since beginning its relationship with the artist’s estate in 2015.
A comprehensive showcase of later works, the presentation focuses on Smith’s practice between 1958 and 1964; a time that signalled a dramatic expansion of his ambition and productivity. Alongside its recognition of Smith’s increasing international popularity, Form in Colour, as the title suggests, invites viewers to explore the dialogue between Smith’s use of form and colour, as well as geometry and gesture. The show brings together a selection of painted steel sculptures and spray-paint works, emphasising the artist’s interest in creating a rapport between two and three-dimensional media.
Painting and drawing remained integral to Smith’s creative output throughout his career, the artist claiming that “drawings are studies for sculpture, sometimes what sculpture is, sometimes what sculpture never can be.” Following the invention of the aerosol spray can in the late 1950s, Smith began to create his Sprays series. Other pieces on display include Dida’s Circle on a Fungus (1961) and Ninety Father (1961), both of which illustrate Smith’s increasing focus on the visual nature of three-dimensional work, and its potential as a painterly medium.
David Smith, Form in Colour, until 18 September, Hauser & Wirth Zürich.
For more, visit www.hauserwirth.com.
1. David Smith, Circles Intercepted, 1961. Steel, painted. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.