Last week, the Columbus Museum of Art
received its first work by acclaimed sculptor David Smith from the William E. Arthur Trust in Memory of Mary Ann Grossman Arthur. Ardent supporters of the Museum, Bill and Mary Ann developed an interest in modern art that was fostered by their connection to CMA, which began some forty years ago. Over several decades they collected works by many twentieth-century artists. Through the generosity of the Arthur family, the Museum acquired its first Jackson Pollock painting, Composition with Flames, in 2011.
I am always amazed and touched by the extraordinary generosity of our donors, said Nannette V. Maciejunes, CMAs Executive Director. These works are invaluable additions to our collection and allow us to tell a broader story of American art.
David Smith is acknowledged as one of if not the greatest and most influential American sculptor of his age. This early welded work adds immeasurably to CMAs collection of early to mid-20th century American modernist sculpture, an area previously not well represented. Untitled (head) from 1938 combines the cubism of Picasso with the openness of Julio Gonzalez, European artists both represented in CMAs collection. Smith utilized and combined the sophistication of these artists with the rawness of his welded materials, thereby creating his own inimitable and thoroughly American art form.
Smith was born in Decatur, Indiana and attended both Ohio University and the University of Notre Dame. In 1926, he moved to New York where he studied painting at the Art Students League with John Sloan and Jan Matulka, who had studied with Hans Hofmann. Matulka introduced Smith to the work of Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, and Russian Constructivists such as Vladimir Tatlin and Kasimir Malevich, whose influence can be seen in his work.
Although originally interested in painting, Smith discovered the welded sculptures of Julio González and Picasso, which led him to increasingly work in three-dimensions. In 1932, he installed a forge and anvil in his studio at Bolton Landing, NY, and began making welded iron heads that are probably the first welded metal sculptures ever made in the United States.
Smith was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950, which was renewed the folowing year. He represented the USA in the 1951 International Biennale in Saõ Paulo and the Venice Biennial in 1954 and 1958. His international reputation grew from a 1953 exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art that traveled to Parus, Zurich, Dusseldorf, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Oslo. In 1957 he was given a retrospective exhibition by MoMA.