Saturday Art: Voltri XV by David Smith
The metal sculpture Smith has presented shows an abstracted view of heavens, moon and clouds.
It is part of the Voltri series created in May through June 1962 in Italy. He worked at an abandoned steel factory, where he welded scrap steel. With assistants, he produced Twenty Six sculptures in thirty days.
The metal sculptures were a series that represented a departure from his more usual methods, that combined materials and found objects.
After c. 1951 in works such as the red painted steel Running Daughter (1955–60; New York, Whitney) the vertical, upright ‘figure’ became his chief preoccupation, but he continued to use imagery from his early sculpture such as spectres, birds and ambiguous still-life personages. He also retained the habit of elevating his sculptures by the most expedient means possible. His large-scale works dispense with the traditional pedestal. Bases that could be tripods, vertical beams or even wheels are incorporated into the sculpture itself. Smith’s mature production challenged preconceptions of what sculpture could be. Slightly larger than human beings, these confrontational, mysterious, open constructions are all edge and elusive planes. Seen from the front, other views of the sculpture can never be predicted. They occupy the viewer’s own space, distancing themselves solely by their degree of otherness from everyday experience.
Smith was eclectic, and often departed from expectations, even described as ‘charged’ imagery. He had a profound influence on sculpture, his works representing some of the most important works of the 20th Century.