Whale & Star Lecture Series: Karen Wilkin on David Smith

It's customary for art to comment on or critique its surroundings. But rarely does it physically mimic its natural environment. Sculptor David Smith lived in his airy Bolton Landing, NY studio home for 25 years, and his iron sculptures began to take shape in the form of the dynamic landscape. Tonight, independent curator and educator Karen Wilkin will explore Smith's work, which serves as a proverbial bridge between the natural and the unnatural.

As Miami art enthusiasts and connoisseurs would expect, the lecture is

hosted at Whale & Star studios in Wynwood, the home and workspace of

internationally celebrated artist Enrique Martínez-Celaya.

The Smith

talk is the fourth in a series of 20 planned lectures, which will

eventually be published into a comprehensive book. Martínez-Celaya calls this project "direct engagement" with

varying fields of academia and artistic practice.  

Smith was raised in the Midwest, but after two brief stints at Ohio University and Notre Dame (all of two weeks for lack of art courses), he got swept up in the New York Abstract Expressionist wave. He met masters such as Arshile Gorky and Willem De Kooning. By 1940, Smith and his wife escaped to the cozy Adirondack town of Bolton Landing, but continued to exhibit at MoMA and the Whitney.

He worked for the American Locomotive Company during World War II, prompting his commitment to working with iron and steel. His fame continued to grow with his stainless steel sculptures and exhibited throughout the world in cities such as Paris, Zurich, Oslo, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo. Sadly, in the midst of all of his achievements, Smith died in a car crash in May 1965.

A Fulbright Scholar and Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Karen Wilkin will investigate how Smith breathed life into seemingly cold, emotion-less material, effectively challenging the methods of past sculptors who tried to freeze-frame natural figures rather than compliment their more intangible qualities. So when you try and claim 'this doesn't look like a freakin' tree," remember how Picasso made us feel about cubed women. It was weird, but it just worked.

David Smith and/in the Landscape will be held at Whale & Star Studio (2215 NW 1st Pl., Miami). Just look for the large black compound with the silver Whale & Star shield. Admission is $5 and the lecture begins tonight at 7p.m. Visit or email [email protected].

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