This comprehensive sourcebook is destined to become a lasting and definitive resource on the art and aesthetic philosophy of the American artist David Smith (1906–1965). A pioneer of twentieth-century modernism, Smith was renowned for the expansive formal and conceptual ambitions of his broadly diverse and inventive welded-steel abstractions. His groundbreaking achievements drew freely on cubism, surrealism, and constructivism, profoundly influencing later movements such as minimalism and environmental art. By radically challenging older conventions of monolithic figuration and refuting arbitrary distinctions between painters and sculptors, Smith asserted sculpture’s equal role in advancing modern art.
A compilation of Smith’s poems, sketchbook notes, essays, lectures, letters to the editor, reviews, and interviews, these previously unpublished texts underscore the varied ways in which his writing functioned as a means to examine and articulate his private identity and to promote the social ideals that made him a key participant in contemporary discourses surrounding modernism, art and politics, and sculptural aesthetics. All the documents in David Smith: Collected Writings, Lectures, and Interviews have been newly corrected against the original manuscripts, typescripts, and audiotapes. Each text in this collection is annotated with historical and contextual information that reflects Smith’s own process of continually reviewing and revising his writings in response to his evolving aspirations as a visual artist.
Susan J. Cooke is Associate Director of The Estate of David Smith. Formerly an Associate Curator at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, she is the author of essays on David Smith, Jean Dubuffet, and Ralston Crawford.