Technique and Process in the Papers of David Smith

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For the American sculptor, David Smith (1906–1965), drawing was a language to replace words. It was the subconscious immediacy of drawing that allowed formal concepts to take shape during the laborious process of welding steel. In the 1950s, Smith’s sculptural output increased dramatically in both scale and quantity. At the same time, his drawings acquired a separate identity, largely independent of his sculpture. However, it appears that Smith in advocating, conceptually at least, the fusion of painting and sculpture, also made discreet reference to his sculptural work via techniques and materials employed in drawing. Smith’s interest in the addition of textural elements to his drawing media for example, provides substantial evidence of his extension of drawing into three dimensions and marked determination that there was no demarcation between drawing and sculpture within his concept. This paper examines the technical information contained in the Smith archive, and how it has been used together with technical analysis to obtain an insight into Smith’s ideas regarding sculpture and drawing. It will also show how meaningful information extracted from a mélange of anecdote, notation and correspondence can provide a deeper insight into the work of one of the 20th century’s great artists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSources and Serendipity
Subtitle of host publicationTestimonies of Artists' Practice
EditorsErma Hermans, Joyce H Townsend
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherArchetype Books
Number of pages138
ISBN (Print)9781904982524
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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