Tanktotem VII, 1960
7 ft. 1/2 in. x 37 in. x 14 1/8 in. (214.6 x 94 x 35.9 cm)
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation
Art © The Estate of David Smith/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson
Tanktotem VII is one of the last in Smith’s Tanktotem series (1953–60), which comprises ten sculptures, each incorporating parts of prefabricated boiler tank ends. The work reflects two aspects central to the artist’s creative interest: an admiration for the working methods traditionally linked to industrial labor, and an attraction to the verticality of the totemic form with its connections to ancient sculptural traditions as well as to early modern abstraction. Smith treated the surface of Tanktotem VII like a three-dimensional canvas, and created a painting whose forms are in dialogue with the geometry of the sculptural object.