David Smith (1906-1965)

Abandoned Foundation (Landscape)

David Smith (1906-1965)
Abandoned Foundation (Landscape)
signed and dated 'David Smith 1946' (on the base)
steel and bronze, on wood artist's base
13¼ x 16 x 4½ in. (33.7 x 41 x 11.4 cm.)
Executed in 1946.
Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner
By descent to the present owner
R. Krauss, The Sculpture of David Smith - A Catalogue Raisonné, New York and London, 1977, no. 198 (illustrated).
David Smith 1906-1965: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., Cambridge, 1966, p. 70, no. 147.
New York, Willard Gallery, David Smith, Sculpture 1946-1947, April 1947, no. 14.
Worchester, John Woodman Higgins Armory, David Smith, June-October 1947.


Robert Manley
Robert Manley




This sculpture will be included in a new catalogue raisonné of David Smith's sculpture being prepared by The Estate of David Smith.

In Abandoned Foundation (Landscape), David Smith utilized the industrial process of welding in the realm of fine art, and his uncanny ability to incorporate and combine scrap material in the realization of a larger, cohesive object are clearly visible. To this end, the influence of the abstract sculpture of early pioneers such as Pablo Picasso and Julio Gonzalez is notable. Indeed, Smith was exposed to those artists' welded iron sculptures, through Cahier d'Art in the early nineteen-thirties. Gonzalez's Head (1935, Museum of Modern Art, New York), for example, demonstrates the ingenious fabrication of evocative sculptural forms through the selection and combination of varied material pieces that would so inspire Smith, and which would ultimately affect his larger creative output to a profound extent.

Importantly, however, with Abandoned Foundation (Landscape), Smith has moved forward to a far less figurative form of sculptural abstraction. Noting earlier Smith works such as False Peace Spectre (1945), in which a degree of realistic sculptural representation is still maintained despite being questioned, this work demonstrates a considerable step toward the more developed sculptural abstraction that Smith would arrive at only a few years later, in his groundbreaking work Australia (1951). The abstracted, menacing birdlike form of False Peace Spectre is both reduced and expanded with the, curvillinear "writing in space" of Australia, an important development in Smith's artistic vision, of which Abandoned Foundation (Landscape) marks a profound, visionary stage due to its reductive form and multi-planar spatial relationship.

Considered in conjunction with its titular reference, this sculptural form alludes poetically to the uneasy relationship between modernity, civilization and nature. Smith's preoccupation with nature and landscape, and man's place in the purity of that realm, is legible in the entirety of his oeuvre, and the grand thematic implications of this notion are intimately, discretely treated in this early work.