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Exhibition is the first to critically and fully explore David Smith's use of the color white
David Smith, 2 Circles 2 Crows, 1963. Painted steel, 68 ¾” x 125” x 8 ¼”. Private Collection, Florida. Art © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

MOUNTAINVILLE, NY.- Storm King Art Center is presenting David Smith: The White Sculptures, from May 13 to November 12, 2017, the first exhibition to critically and fully consider the use of the color white within David Smith’s works. At the time of the artist’s death in 1965, eight monumental steel sculptures, painted white, stood in the fields surrounding his home and studio in the Adirondack Mountains; many of these are on view at Storm King. David Smith: The White Sculptures is the first public presentation to unite three among these—the entire Primo Piano series: Primo Piano I, II, and III, all from 1962. The exhibition also features a selection of Smith’s earliest constructions, created out of white coral gathered by the artist during his stay in the Virgin Islands in 1931-32, and rarely shown since.

“We’re thrilled to present the extraordinary work of David Smith for our 2017 season, and to highlight an artist who has played a vital role in Storm King’s history,” says Storm King President, John P. Stern. “Our presentation provides a singular opportunity to see a focused series of Smith’s work, while celebrating the deep connections between his art and one of the core values of Storm King’s mission: to explore art in nature.”

The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storm King’s 1967 acquisition of 13 Smith sculptures, which were sited directly in the landscape. This marked the start of Storm King’s focus on the large-scale, outdoor art installations for which it is now well known. The central works of the exhibition, large welded-steel constructions that Smith painted with white industrial enamel, have been installed outdoors on Storm King’s Museum Hill. Smaller sculptures as well as paintings, drawings, and photographs that further explore the artist’s use of white are being displayed inside Storm King’s Museum Building.

Following Smith’s death, his white sculptures became central to an art-historical debate regarding proper custodianship of works of art when Clement Greenberg, an executor of the David Smith Estate, had the artist’s white paint stripped from five of Smith’s sculptures. Greenberg’s actions were exposed in a 1974 Art in America article by the influential art historian and Smith scholar Rosalind Krauss. The works were subsequently restored to their original white color by the Estate. David Smith: The White Sculptures is the first exhibition to bring together and present these works as a group, and to offer viewers the opportunity to fully consider Smith’s complex use of the color white.

David Smith (1906-1965) is widely considered to be one of the foremost artists of the twentieth century, and was the American sculptor most linked to Abstract Expressionism. In 1933 he made the first welded iron sculpture in America, and went on to produce a diverse body of work that has influenced the generations of sculptors who have followed. In the 1950s, Smith began to install groups of sculptures in the fields outside his home and studio in the Adirondack Mountains, contemplating and photographing them in all seasons against the sky, clouds, and surrounding scenery. Smith emphasized the visual nature of sculpture as image, and innovatively incorporated open space into his work. He used white both as a color and as a means to define the structure of positive and negative space in his large outdoor sculptures as well as in his Sprays - paintings and works on paper he produced with industrial spray enamel. Seen in Storm King’s natural landscape, whose rolling hills approximate the geography of Smith’s Adirondack property, David Smith: The White Sculptures will echo Smith’s commitment to presenting art and nature as integrated entities.

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