Cubi VII, 1963
Stanley McCormick Memorial Court, north of the Art Institute
111 South Michigan Avenue
Cubi VII is part of a series of twenty-eight sculptures made by Indiana-born artist David Smith between 1961 and 1965, when he died in an automobile accident. Smith was a sculptor who was equally comfortable being identified as a “welder.” According to art historian Anne M. Wagner, his use of metal and welding was a “polemical” approach to sculpture, one that “took a stance toward industrial production as a social and economic reality in the United States at mid-century and insisted, in so doing, that art is deeply embedded in the technological relations of its time.”
The vertical orientation of the Cubi series evokes the human figure while the chosen material and geometric shapes are suggestive of modernity, in terms of their machined surfaces and through the use of techniques associated with industrial production. Smith also may be described as an “Abstract Expressionist” sculptor, as the gestures of the artist’s hand are inscribed on the stainless steel surfaces, in form of scratched and polished areas, in a manner that echoes the visible application of paint associated with artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.