In this slick installment in Phaidon’s Focus series on modern artists, Pachner, a veteran contributor to former monographs on the artist, outlines Smith’s (1906-1965) pivotal career as a sculptor of evocative structures that both refined abstraction and crucially advanced welding as a sculptural practice in the U.S. As one who “fundamentally recast the artist’s role and persona” and “altered the course of modern art,” such a foundational introduction to Smith—broad, concise, accessible, and up-to-date—has long been overdue. Compressed sections map his style and technique, from the eclecticism of his earliest structures (assembled out of miscellaneous junk, such as “Agricola Head,” which is supported by an old bombshell case), to the heroic vigor of his late work, most notably the stainless steel “Cubi” series, among the sculptor’s last before his death in a car accident at age 59. Pachner’s overviews of prominent sculptures provide essential context and perspective. Best of all are her short topical discussions of Smith’s photography, drawings, abstract stencil “sprays,” and poetry, which reveal the sheer breadth and clarity of his vision, one that “refused to be limited by the preconceived boundaries of any medium.” 120 color illustrations. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"This handsomely illustrated book. . .sheds light on Smith's prolific drawing and writing practice." - Publishers Weekly, Top Ten Art Books for 2013"
In this slick installment in Phaidon's Focus series on modern artists, Pachner, a veteran contributor to former monographs on the artist, outlines Smith's pivotal career. . .Pachner's overviews of prominent sculptures provide essential context and perspective." - Publishers Weekly
David Smith's (1906–65) minimalist metal sculptures are abstract yet figurative and almost whimsical. Influenced by abstract expressionism, Smith explored various subjects, scale, and eventually color in his welded pieces. Pachner (educator, Museum of Modern Art) has contributed to numerous publications on the artist. Here, she examines Smith's artistic development not only in sculpture but also in drawing, writing, and photography.All of these titles are similarly structured. The life and career of each artist are covered chronologically and interspersed with one-page "Focus" essays that carefully examine specific bodies of work. At under 150 pages, each book provides a comprehensive survey without becoming exhaustive. Quality images, most in color, are directly referenced in the text. The books end with a further reading section, making them ideal for introductory research. VERDICT This series provides a critical analysis of the artists and their work through language and ideas accessible to undergraduate students and a general audience.—Shannon Marie Robinson, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH