January 19, 2012 - Wexner Center for the Arts - Winter Exhibitions
January 19, 2012

Winter Exhibitions

Winter Exhibitions

David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy
Sarah Morris: Points on a Line
Ernst Caramelle (on view through July 1 in the lobbies)

January 28–April 15, 2012

Opening events January 27

Wexner Center for the Arts
The Ohio State University, Columbus
1871 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43210

T 614-292-3535


The Wexner Center for the Arts is pleased to present David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, the first major thematic exhibition devoted to the work of the renowned 20th-century American sculptor. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the exhibition brings together approximately 80 works from throughout Smith’s career. Cubes and Anarchy, for the first time, places David Smith’s late geometric masterpieces in context with his earlier works. It reveals Smith (1906–65) as a sculptor whose identification with the working class motivated him to adopt the geometric forms of the constructivist avant-garde from the very first years of his career in the 1930s until his untimely death. Cubes and Anarchy includes some of Smith’s best-known sculptures, as well as paintings and works on paper—many provided by the Estate of David Smith, which lent not only significant sculptures but also sketchbooks, drawings, and photographs, only a few of which have been exhibited previously.

Widely heralded as the greatest American sculptor of the 20th century, Smith has often been presented as a counterpart to the abstract expressionist painters or as a draftsman in space. Most scholarship has viewed Smith’s early work as developing in a linear fashion, from the European influences of Picasso and cubism in the 1930s; to a figuratively based, highly detailed, American surrealism in the 1940s; to a lyrically abstract, expressionist expansiveness in the 1950s; culminating with the seemingly disconnected breakthrough embodied in the reduced, geometric monumentality of his final works.

Cubes and Anarchy offers a fresh interpretation of Smith, revealing geometric abstraction as a constant focus throughout his career, a leitmotif that was deeply connected to the artist’s self-definition as a working man and his need to reconcile that, through his interest in constructivism, with his pioneering commitment to forging a unique personal identity as a modern artist. From his earliest small-scale sculptures to his last monumental works, what Smith called “basic geometric form” was a powerful touchstone for the artist. The exhibition title derives from Smith’s recollection that his concept of “cubes and anarchy” stemmed from the painter John Sloan, his teacher at New York’s Art Students League in the 1920s, who exposed him to cubism, constructivism, and progressive social movements. As art critic Dore Ashton noted, Sloan “not only brought [Smith] into the modern art world, but also into the world of political commitment.”

Also on view: Sarah Morris: Points on a Line. Commissiosned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the film Points on a Line takes viewers on a journey from Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois—with pivotal stops along the way at New York’s Seagram Building, designed by Mies, and the Four Seasons restaurant on its ground floor, designed by Johnson. In examining the two architects side-by-side, Morris places them in conversation with one another, implicitly underlining their similarities as well as their essential differences. Her filmic choices also reveal an ongoing interest in the duality of space—its interior psychology as well as its exterior form—and the preservation necessary to these landmarks. The Wexner Center will produce a gallery guide for this exhibition featuring an essay by writer and dOCUMENTA (13) agent Adam Kleinman.

In addition, Ernst Caramelle will envelop the dramatic geometries of the Wexner Center’s lower lobby with an ambitious site-specific wall painting. Caramelle is best-known for large-scale, hand-painted installations composed of geometric forms rendered in delicate hues. These works use deceptively simple means to transform and complicate the spaces they occupy, throwing into relief the interrelated questions of perception and phenomenology that have occupied the artist for over four decades. A brochure will be produced for this installation, featuring Caramelle’s preliminary sketches for the Wexner Center installation and an essay by Chief Curator of Exhibitions Christopher Bedford.

OPENING CELEBRATION: Friday, January 27, 6–9 pm.

CURATOR TALK: Carol S. Eliel, curator of David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, will give a public talk at 5 pm on Friday, January 27. Media and public access to the galleries starts at 4 pm.

Press Contact:
Karen Simonian, 614-292-9923
ksimonian [​at​] wexarts.org

Press pages (with lo-res images):

Follow us on Twitter @wexarts

*Image above: David Smith, “Zig III,” 1961 (detail)
Painted steel, 93 × 124 × 61 inches. 
The Estate of David Smith, New York; courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
© The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York.
Photo: Jerry L. Thompson.

Wexner Center for the Arts
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