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David Smith

Cubi III

1961

David Smith made the Cubi series between 1961 and 1965. Comprising tightly stacked geometric forms, these works constituted for the artist a new process for the formulation of his sculpture; using cardboard boxes, he cut out cubes, disks, and cylinders and combined them into maquettes that he translated into monumental structures of brushed stainless steel. For Cubi III, Smith stacked variously sized rectangles in an eight-foot-tall anthropomorphic arrangement. The sculpture’s burnished surface evinces the circular hand motions the artist employed to achieve the finish, which both plays with light and alludes to the gestural qualities of Abstract Expressionist painting.

David Smith (b. 1906, Decatur, Indiana; d. 1965, Bennington, Vermont)
Cubi III, 1961
Stainless steel
95 1/2 x 33 x 19 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Partial and promised gift of Beatrice and Philip Gersh

I like outdoor sculpture, and the most practical thing for outdoor sculpture is stainless steel, and I make them and I polish them in such a way that on a dull day, they take on the dull blue, or the color of the sky in the late afternoon sun, the glow, golden like the rays, the colors of nature. And in a particular sense, I have used atmosphere in a reflective way on the surfaces. They are colored by the sky and the surroundings, the green or blue of water. Some are down by the water and some are by the mountains. They reflect the colors. They are designed for outdoors. —David Smith