David Smith

David Smith, 1906 – 1965

David Smith was born in 1905 in Decatur, Indiana, were he lived until 1926.

In 1926 he moved to New York, where he studied painting at the Art Student’s League with Jan Matulka. About the same time, he met and married the sculptor Dorothy Dehner.

In 1933 Smith changed his artistic focus from painting to sculpture, though he continued to draw and paint in watercolor throughout his life. In developing his sculpture, Smith found inspiration in Giacometti’s surrealist bronze figures and Picasso’s and González’s cubist metal constructions of 1928–1929.

In 1938, Smith had his first one-man show in New York. At that time he was working for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal program to create jobs for artists during the Great Depression.

In 1950, David Smith was awarded a Guggenheim grant that afforded him some financial stability and allowed him to experiment with differing media, steel and iron, and other methods of construction. In 1951 Smith developed a new group of sculpture, a series entitled Agricolas, which integrated parts of farm equipment and found machine objects.

Smith’s imaginative assemblages and strong, energetic designs are ranked among the most influential sculpture in American art.