David Smith. (Welded Stick Figure.) Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
View twice = without looking at exhibit label.
Reference Photographs from Mary Ann Sullivan's online art image collection.
[Note. Some abstract sculptural art completely flummoxed me. This David Smith piece is an instance. I neglected even to take down the name of the sculpture after studying the piece. As a result, I am unable to find an image of the piece that I can be certain is the piece at LACMA. Initially, I viewed the art without looking at the exhibit label, because I wanted my native reaction to it without the filter of a label or exhibit text. For some reason, I had begun using equal signs as punctuation, and I am not sure now of the meaning of some of the notes.]
1. Literal description. Six foot high (approx.), thin-stick Figure - one column, on center drum, one top column; top piece.
2. Placement. In a group of 8 Smith figures; in an open room; arranged toward the center of the room, but without a social grouping.
3. Structural composition. Two off-center columns; off-balance; one on top and one on bottom of a drum - Drum cut open - Moore, etc. So = basically = a free column top piece = gnarled metal; pieces welded together.
4. Mass - gravity. Mass has been eaten - (eroded) away - But this is not anti-mass and not anti-gravity because there is no tension in the figure; there doesn't seem to be any "lift" to the piece: no motion.
5. Emotive content.
> a human figure = "head" = vertebrae; center = womb = female = empty
> a crane or stork, with one leg up, resting?
> a classical column, separated from a building because building ruined
> all the strength is in the welds - the welded joints
> not anthropomorphic = no humor; no seriousness; no editorial statement
> so this piece comes off as really formal?
> dominant association = isolation in a ruined (archaeological) setting
6. Surface technique. The upper column has been chiseled and worked; edged; smoothed and buffed edges of the upper column. Lower column has not been surface worked. Painted patina = gray patina in crevices; "Rust" may be partly painted.
7. Comment =
Imagine settings for this?
What did Smith have in mind, other than his welding shop?
In Eastern US forest?
In living room?
Against Building exterior wall?
If one took away the welds, the sculptures would fall apart = no natural balance.
There is space referenced by the sculpture but it is the space of a containing building - why?
Because of the presence of the sculptor - Smith has not removed himself from the presence of the sculpture - that is the meaning of the welds. The sculpture has not been "born", and has not left the studio! It is still the sculptor's conception = Hence this is "rationalistic" sculpture, mentalistic; not "realistic".