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History of David Smith’s Three-Dimensional Sculptures

History of David Smith’s Three-Dimensional Sculptures

Artist David Smith was born 1906 on March 9th in Indiana. Throughout his life, David Smith wanted to be an artist thus; this led him to quit universities that he joined because they did not offer any courses that were arts related. During his time, he met with well renowned artists who led him to increase his passion both for painting and construction. David Smith started building his arts from such things as soldered metal, coral, wood and wires. Most of the art he made was in three dimensional and after a while he started using oxyacetylene torch to weld metal heads. Research and studies show that David Smith was one of the first people to create sculptures out of welded metal in the United States.

I chose Artist David Smith over the other artists because he was a multi talented artist who could both paint and sculpt unlike most other artists. It was believed and perceived that, in most cases, sculptures made from metal were mainly from casts of bronze and sculptures were made using a mold created by the artist. However, this was not the case with David Smith, it was believed that he made his sculptures from scratch: using his torch he welded pieces of metal and steel together applying the same criteria as a painter uses when painting or applying paint to their canvas. This in turn, made many of his arts outstanding and unique. Moreover, he made sculptures that were in three dimensions including objects that were hard to be sculpted into three dimensions. David smith brought out the difference in painting and sculptures in the sense that his sculptures were built in three dimensions.

 The work of Artist David Smith was mainly a combination of realistic and abstract, but at times, he objectified some given items. His skills of sculpting and welding were heightened during the Second World War; this was when he worked as a welder for the American Locomotive company. Some of his work that he sculpted includes; landscapes, sculptures of an open book and still life sculptures. In addition, prior to the war his work was already in circulation.

During the early beginning of the twentieth century, labor was the main issue that was challenging most of the Americans. This is widely shown by most of the artist at the time whose arts mostly defined labor: this was in the form of masculine compensation, which was often, unspoken and social believes that linked the new kind of art mostly with feminine leisure of the upper class people. This is seen to be in disparity with the art that David Smith created or, made.

The sculptures that Artist David Smith made were based on his own symbolism which was highly personal. In relation to his creations, he often linked them to great paintings saying that the conception of a sculptor was the same as that of a painter in that both are free spirited. Sculpting to him was a great passion and even, though they did not portray any political or cultural influence, they were often symbols of how he viewed the world and its objects in general. The work of David smith is believed to have put American art into the lime light, and though it was met with given criticism and myth it was believed to be portraying what he believed in through life experiences.

The work of smith first started circulating in the 1940s where they were taken to the annual exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art's in New York. His artistic work was stopped by the Second World War, but after the war, he had increased his skills and knowledge of welding. Having acquired this knowledge and skills he made his sculptures larger than his previous work and this led to him getting his first recognition and award. In the year, 1950, David smith was awarded the Guggenheim prestigious award fellowship. This became an opening for him to create larger sculptures because his financial strains were highly reduced (Smith, 1999). In addition to, this he was now able to create or, build a sculpture with the use of stainless steel only thus; he could not only rely on the metal that he used to weld. This gave David Smith the idea and leeway to make sculptures in series where he named the first ones Agricolas. Moreover, David smith was able to burnish some of his sculptures that he made using stainless steel with the use of Sanders.

 Towards the mid 1950s arts done by Artist David Smith had gained recognition and were now being presented through international events. David Smith was perceived to be an artist who came up with a way of drawing in clear space compared to other artists. After coming up with the strategy of making his sculptures in series form his art mainly changed to expressionism in abstract form.


In conclusion, I believe that David Smith was the pioneer of modern art though his sculptures. Studies show that he made sculptures of items that had not been viewed in the three dimensional form. In addition, in as much as he was born during times of labor movements, his art was not based on this, but rather on what he perceived and believed in through life teachings. David Smith met with well recognized artists whom he believes acted as his inspiration to becoming both a painter and a sculptor.

Though a given art may be an abstract or objectification, David Smith tried to bring out the reality in his art through the addition of three dimensions. This was the key element to his art hence; it made him stand out from other artists in general because of his creativity. Although he died, his art is still in exhibition in museums as they act as a symbol of how modern art begun.


Smith, Candida N. (1999). The Fields of David Smith. New York, London: Thames & Hudson.

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