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David Smith

As part of Yorkshire Sculpture International

Underground Gallery and Open Air
22 Jun 2019–5 Jan 2020

The first Yorkshire Sculpture International, a festival produced with our partners, Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield and Leeds Art Gallery, takes place from Saturday 22 June to Sunday 29 September 2019.

The renowned sculptor Phyllida Barlow, a ‘provocateur’ for the event, has informed the curatorial direction of the programme with a series of thought-provoking statements, including​ sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms’, responding to the idea that there is a basic human impulse to make and connect with objects. At YSP, this takes shape through a major project by David Smith, one of the 20th century’s most important and influential sculptors.
The first American artist to work with welded metal, Smith was hugely influential to the development of international abstract sculpture, and is regarded as the principal sculptor of the American Abstract Expressionists. With few works in non-US public collections, he is relatively rarely seen or shown in Europe and this project is the most significant since Tate Modern’s in 2006. For YSP, which marries superb galleries and landscape with scholarship and rigorous curation, the exhibition marks a milestone in a series of critically acclaimed monograph exhibitions by eminent sculptors that include Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Eduardo Chillida and Joan Miró.

Important sculptures and works on paper show the development of Smith’s sculptural practice, and the importance of his life at Bolton Landing in upstate New York; it includes works and artefacts from Smith’s home which have not previously been seen and works that have not been seen for many decades. Smith aligned himself to an anthropological trajectory, embracing the creative continuity that connects humanity across millennia, connecting to an ancient tradition of making and fettling. 
This exhibition examines the immediacy of his sculpture; its sometimes obdurate, sometimes tactile nature; its shared space with man, machine, and natural forms; and the social/human impulse through which Smith developed abstraction from the automotive factory and foundry. The exhibition draws out Smith’s understanding of the social practice of art – vividly illustrated by his 1930s Medals of Dishonor and 1955 lecture, The Artist in Society, and of his belief in an outward-facing, international United States that valued its connectedness to the wider world.

More David Smith

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YSP Members: David Smith Behind The Scenes

14 Jun 2019

Join YSP Curator, Sarah Coulson, for an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Underground Gallery and open air a week before the opening of major exhibition of works by David Smith. Learn how...

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Yorkshire Sculpture International announce dates and theme

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