David Smith, Cubi XXI, 1964. Installed at Storm King Art Center.
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson.
January 7 2012, source: Whitney Museum of American Art
Standing nearly ten feet tall, Cubi XXI is one of twenty-eight large-scale, geometric, stainless-steel sculptures within the Cubi series made by Smith between 1961 and 1965. The Cubi series, compositions of prefabricated geometric forms that Smith welded together, are widely viewed as among the artist’s greatest works. Composed so that the individual elements of the works appear to shift when viewed in relation to each other, the Cubi sculptures are informed by some of the essential qualities of Cubist painting.
In addition to Cubism, the Cubi sculptures recall Smith’s earlier use of abstract figuration. Cubi XXI, for example, evokes classical sculptures in which a human figure leans against a vertical support such as a tree or decorative element.
Cubi XXI is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through January 8, 2012, in the special exhibition David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy. It will then return to Storm King Art Center, where it had been on long-term loan since 2001, and will be reinstalled on Museum Hill in time for the Art Center’s 2012 season (April 4 through November 25).
The Whitney looks forward to presenting Cubi XXI in its new downtown building, which is slated to open in 2015. The two institutions are in the process of finalizing arrangements for sharing the work.