Mnuchin Gallery, (Stand B6), will present a solo exhibition of work by acclaimed American sculptor David Smith featuring a selection of sculptures from the artist’s historic Forging series. This will be the first solo exhibition of Smith’s work in London since the retrospective, David Smith: A Centennial, traveled to the Tate Modern in 2006-07. The monolithic linearity of the Forgings is emblematic of Smith’s groundbreaking use of industrial processes, materials and fabricators— a shift in approach that dramatically altered not only the future of his own oeuvre, but also the course of twentieth-century sculpture. This will be the first solo exhibition of Smith’s work in London since the retrospective, David Smith: A Centennial, traveled to the Tate Modern in 2006-07. Frieze Masters will take place October 15-19, 2014, in London’s Regent’s Park.
The Forgings embody immediacy and unity, what a critic writing at the time of their first presentation in 1956 described as a, “force and vigor and gleam full of powerful expression…as if pulsating from the echoes of a triumphant shout.” They bring to mind the spare human figures of Alberto Giacometti and the linear “zips” of Barnett Newman, manifesting in three dimensions Smith’s career-long exploration of the drawn line and his belief in the creative imperative of the human impulse towards mark making. Although clearly engaged in a sophisticated dialogue with art history, Smith boldly titled his Forgings after the mechanical process used to create them, underscoring his pivotal role as the sculptor whose works bridged the conceptual divide between the intensely humanistic poetics of Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi and the industrial assertiveness and monumentality of Donald Judd and Richard Serra. He created the series in 1955, while working as a visiting artist at the University of Indiana, in his home state. With the assistance of a power forge operated by Leroy Borton of Seward & Company, Bloomington, Smith flattened, cut, plugged, bent and joined raw steel bars to create totemic vertical forms. By polishing, rusting, lacquering and painting their surfaces, he assembled a group of related but individually independent works that vary widely in scale and finish, each one imbued with its own powerful personality.
Working closely with Peter Stevens, Executive Director of The Estate of David Smith, Mnuchin Gallery has curated an exhibition at Frieze Masters that will contextualize the Forgings with other works by Smith that share their totemic qualities and emphasize the dramatic diversity of his oeuvre. Spanning the years from 1955 to 1963, these sculptures echo the abstract verticality of the Forgings and demonstrate Smith’s mastery of a wide range of materials— including bronze, painted steel, and found objects— and subject matter, including surrealist human figures and machine-like assemblages. On view will be Ninety Father (1961), VB XVII (1963), and Untitled, an intimate unique bronze dating from 1955. The gallery’s presentation will also include several works on paper that highlight the ways in which Smith’s sculptural processes are deeply rooted in the practice of drawing.