- Karen Wilkin
(b Decatur, IN, March 9, 1906; d nr Bennington, VT, May 23, 1965).
American sculptor, painter, and draughtsman. Virtually self-taught as a sculptor, David Smith liked to say that he ‘belonged’ with painters. His art training began when he moved to New York in 1926 and, on the advice of his future wife, the sculptor Dorothy Dehner (1908–94), he enrolled at the Art Students League (ASL; 1927–32) to study painting and drawing. There he had his first exposure to advanced modernist art. Smith’s early friendship with painters such as Adolph Gottlieb and Milton Avery was reinforced during the Depression of the 1930s, when he participated in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project in New York. These relationships endured even after the Smiths moved to Bolton Landing, NY, near Lake George, in 1940.
Probably the most significant of Smith’s early connections was with the painter, collector, and connoisseur John Graham, who provided Smith with information about the latest European art, something in short supply in New York at the time. Through Graham, Smith met Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and Willem de Kooning. Graham also introduced the Smiths to African sculpture and later guided them through Paris on their first European trip in ...