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David Smith "Cubi I"

David Smith "Cubi I"

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From: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Limited Edition: 25
Exhibition: David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88cm x 243cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


“They’re all girls,” said David Smith of his large-scale metal geometric sculptures in the open field near his home in Bolton Landing, NY. It’s not that they were all feminine, rather, many were rugged and raw. But they were his ‘girls,’ arranged and rearranged by the artist to challenge and provoke each other.

The field was also a playground of sorts for his two daughters who were encouraged to climb and bang their fists on the steel of the sculptures while they picked berries or tromped through the snow. Many of the sculptures that once lived on the New York field have found their way into museums and private collections around the world. LACMA presented David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, the largest gathering of Smith’s Cubis and Zigs in more than 25 years.


LACMA’s exhibition of more than 100 David Smith sculptures, paintings, drawings, and photographs was the first major thematic exhibition of the artist’s work. Smith created numerous series of sculptures throughout his career, and this exhibition assembled a large grouping of two series, the Zigs and Cubis. Cubes and Anarchy was installed at LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion with white walls and translucent white scrim dividers to mimic a snowy day on Smith’s Bolten Landing, NY field where his sculptures often caught their first light.

Smith created 28 Cubisin total, each a large-scale geometric stainless steel sculpture that was burnished with a circular sander to create a highly reflective surface. He intended for these sculptures to be installed outside where the ever changing sky could reflect and add nuance to the sculpture. The Cubiswere Smith’s main body of work between 1961 and 1965, leading up to his untimely death in a car accident at the age of 59.

All of Smith’s other sculpture series are number sequentially, but he broke that mold with the Cubis. The first two Cubiswere IX and III, made in October and November 1961. Cubis I, the sculpture featured on the banner used to promote the exhibition, was done in 1932. Some art historians have speculated that Cubis I is the mother of all Cubis, the great abstract fertility figure with the diamond as her belly and the ascending cubes as breasts, shoulder, and head. Cubis I is owned by the Detroit Institute of Art.

Cubis I, as photographed by Smith himself, appears on the front of the banner with the LACMA logo and “Wilshire at Fairfax” beneath in white letters. The back of the banner reads “David Smith/Cubes and Anarchy” in sideways vertical red letters on the same cloudy gray sky background overlooking Smith’s sculpture field from the front of the banner with the exhibition dates “April 3-July 24, 2011” at the bottom.


This banner was displayed around Los Angeles between April 3, 2011 and July 24, 2011. The exhibition then traveled to Wexner Center for the Arts where it was on view from January 28 to April 15, 2012.

About the Artist

Learn more about David Smith

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