Friday, April 5, 2013

Hudson River Landscape

“Is Hudson River Landscape the Hudson River, or is it the travel, the vision; or does it matter? The sculpture exists on its own, it is an entity… I want you to travel, by perception, the path I traveled in creating it.”
-David Smith

David Smith was an American abstract expressionist sculptor and painter best known for his large steel, abstract sculptures; he was also the first to work with welded medal. Originally trained as a draftsman and painter, Smith's works during the 1960's blurred the distinction between painting and sculpture and were often described as "drawings in space." These works, such as Hudson River Landscape, make use of delicate tracery as opposed to solid form, with a two dimensional appearance that contradicts the traditional idea of sculpture in the round. Deemed by many as the most important American sculptor of his generation, Smith synthesized influences from Cubism, Surrealism and Constructivism into highly personal art in a distinctively American style . He brought qualities of industrial manufacturing into the language of art and proved to be a decisive influence on later movements such as Minimalism. Hudson River Landscape was inspired by a 220 mile train ride from New York City to his home in Bolton Landing. The rust colored steel floats through space creating somewhat half-recognizable forms: railroad tracks, rounded clouds -- as if it were composed of multiple glimpses through a train compartment window. Although it may seem like a simple absracted landscape, it is revealed in his notebooks that Smith meant Hudson River Landscape to be much more:

"this sculpture will not be the mystical abode
of power of wealth of religion
Its existence will be its statement
It will not be a scorned ornament on a money changer’s temple
Or a house of fear
It will not be a tower of elevators and plumbing with every
Room rented, deductions, taxes, allowing for depreciation 
amortization yielding a percentage in dividends"
It is evident that Smith intended the sculpture to be a vision of a world free of capitalism and class society. Read more of Smith's notebook writings here.


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