Metal in Art
If you’re looking for an interesting centre piece for your garden then you should consider a metal sculpture. Not only will it be incredibly unique but there are materials that can be used that won’t rust, even without painting. There have been many great sculptors in the past but increasingly we are seeing modern artists using more industrial materials. Here we take a look at a truly revolutionary sculptor who created his metal work during the 1930s in America and paved the way for the future popularity of sculpting with metal. For Corten Metal Sculpture, visit http://www.afsculpture.uk/scuplture-portfolio/corten-metal-sculptures.
David Smith established his workshop in Brooklyn, New York in 1933. At this time, most sculptors used a bronze foundry or a conventional studio but Smith wanted to do something different. He left the workshop in 1940 and moved to a more rural environment, as here he could have more space. Many of his sculptures bore names that had a message to his daughters in the hope that they would be his legacy to them after his death. At the time of creating his pieces there was no interest in metal sculpture and certainly no collectors who wanted to buy them. His last show in 1956 saw no sales at all.
Sometimes, fame and recognition don’t happen until after death and so it was for David Smith. He died in a car crash in 1965 but since then his work can now be seen in many museums around the world. Smith was the pioneer of welding in art and the industrial processes, previously seen in Picasso’s work, inspired and spoke to Smith. He had worked in factories and made parts for automobiles so making sculptures from materials he was already rooted in made perfect sense to him.
Welding is a process that involves permanently joining individual steel parts by melting a steel filler rod. The elements are then fused to create a single bond. Bonding to form a whole greatly appealed to Smith who wanted to incorporate a sense of unity in his artwork. There is something quite intriguing and aesthetically pleasing about using steel in art, with bringing the modern world of industry, military power and progress into the realm of art. Practical benefits also included access to a cheap, plentiful and durable material.
Working with metal enabled Smith to work independently, with artistic control over every mark and detail. He could create bespoke and totally unique objects and often painted his pieces. He did not agree with mechanical reproductions of individual artwork and so never produced editions, even when he worked in bronze.
Smith always paid very close attention to the visual effect of the technique he employed. He occasionally left his welding marks visible as a reminder of the processes involved. On other pieces, he would meticulously grind away the marks to place emphasis on the totality of an object. Smith was able to master metal to create seamless and fluid works of art. It’s a shame he never saw the full appreciation shown to his work since his death.
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