Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard
Egyptian Barnyard

Egyptian Barnyard

David Smith (American, 1906-1965)

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David Smith referred to his sculptures of the 1950s, like Egyptian Barnyard, as “drawings in space.” Their open construction of lines and forms, here created from wrought and soldered silver, recall the gestural marks of his drawings. Smith’s forms allude to the contours of his natural surroundings. It has been suggested that they also refer to what only the mind’s eye could see—like the tracks of shooting stars, or the flight paths of birds that knife through a landscape.

Smith chose to work far away from cities. Over time, his 80-acre farm at Bolton Landing became the stage for his large-scale sculptures, which integrated completely with their natural surroundings, as can be seen in the image to the right.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Widely hailed as the most important Abstract Expressionist sculptor of his generation, David Smith trained as a painter, but soon began building up his two-dimensional surfaces into three-dimensional reliefs. Moving into the realm of sculpture, he created open-form, welded-metal constructions inspired in part by the Cubist and Surrealist sculpture that Pablo Picasso and Julio González created in the early 1930s.

Around 1938, Smith started making silver castings, beginning with a group of small medallions. In 1954, the same year that he contributed work to the exhibition Sculpture in Silver from Islands in Time, Smith created Egyptian Barnyard-the first silver casting that he made for himself and displayed in his home. Smith titled the work after he completed it, perhaps alluding to the central form, which resembles an Egyptian mummy.

Born in Decatur, Indiana, Smith lived in the Midwest until he was twenty-one. In 1929, he started visiting Bolton Landing, New York, on the hills overlooking Lake George. He moved there permanently in 1940 and named his studio Terminal Iron Works. Although best known for his large-scale steel sculptures, which are often described as drawings in space, Smith also produced paintings and drawings that demonstrate a close connection to his three-dimensional work. Seven of Smith's drawings are in the IMA collection.

[It is] a good sculpture and the only one I'll probably ever make with such delicacy.
-David Smith, 1957

Object Information

artist
David Smith (American, 1906-1965)
creation date
1954
materials
wrought and soldered silver on wood base
dimensions
14-1/2 x 24 x 5-1/2 in.
accession number
60.279
credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Alsdorf
copyright
© Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
collection
Contemporary Art
colors

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