“… steel I hold in high respect… . What associations it possesses are those of this century: power, structure, movement, progress, suspension, destruction, brutality.”–David Smith
Although trained as a painter, David Smith made his most influential work as a sculptor. He gained metalworking skills during his employment in a motor and locomotive factory in the 1920s, and created his first metal sculpture in 1933. The Royal Bird (1947-1948), on view in Gallery 4, is a remarkable example of Smith’s early figurative work.
By the late 1950s, Smith was involved with monumental scale. Cubi IX was among the earliest works in a series of immense stainless-steel constructions of geometric forms that Smith produced in the last four years of his life. Fascinated with both light and mass, he designed the massive Cubi sculptures to be shown outdoors, in the sun. By burnishing and then polishing the surfaces of Cubi IX so it reflects the colors of its surroundings, Smith created a painterly illusion of depth in three dimensions.