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    Sale 1904

    Post War and Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 148

    David Smith (1906-1965)

    Untitled

    Price Realised  

    David Smith (1906-1965)
    Untitled
    signed with initials and dated 'DS 1951 Jan' (upper right)
    ink and tempera on paper
    20 x 26 in. (50.8 x 66 cm.)
    Painted in 1951.


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    For David Smith, America's greatest sculptor of the twentieth century, there is little difference between drawing, painting and sculpture. He easily moved from one medium to the next and indeed one subject to the next, such that a drawing could be a unique object in its own right or a sculpture could in turn be inspiration for a drawing. A factory worker during World War II, Smith found his muse in materials and heavy equipment. These years were lean for a sculptor due to a shortage of available industrial scrap metal and Smith found himself working most feverishly with brushes and ink on paper.

    The limits of drawing on a two dimensional surface can for many sculptors seem very limiting, the distance between the pictorial markings on a surface and the rendered form in three dimensions being insurmountable. For Smith, line is language whether in two or three dimensions. This Untitled drawing from 1951 finds secure placement within Smith's strongest graphic works of the time. There is a unique and vibrant electricity in it's coloration and a tangled constellation of linear form that anticipates Smith's later detachment from specific iconographic references. Untitled, 1951 begins to exhibit his final sculptural destination resulting in a formal reduction of form and existential dematerialization.

    Smith worked with a puritanical approach to art making, believing that through consistent effort and dedication to process, truth would become form. Smith's idealism is apparent through the words spoken during a drawing lesson as recalled by his daughter Candida.
    "Feel your body and its natural movement. Draw from deep inside, feeling the brush move the paint across the surface of the paper. Do not censure or force forms to come forth. Wait for the disciplined reception of the inner impulse. After that is resolved into form, you may feel free to build upon it. Each gesture comes out of the one before. Be Bold." (C. Smith, "The Voice of the Artist", David Smith: Draughtsman. Between Eros and Thanatos, Valencia, 2004, p. 13).

    Provenance

    Estate of David Smith, New York Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1989


    Exhibited

    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, David Smith: The Drawings, December 1979-February 1980, p. 71, no. 36 (illustrated).
    Düsseldorf, Kunstammlung Nordhein-Westfalen and London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, David Smith, March 1986-January 1987, p. 119, no. 68 (illustrated).
    New York, Dickinson Roundell, 19th and 20th Century Works on Paper, May-June 2000, p. 64 (illustrated in color).