On view

American, 1906–1965
XI Books III Apples, 1959
Stainless steel
7 ft. 10 in. x 35 in. x 16 1/4 in. (238.8 x 88.9 x 41.3 cm)
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation
© 2021 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson
XI Books III Apples is constructed largely of pre-cut stainless steel pieces that Smith ordered from a Ryerson Steel mail-order catalogue then welded together. Its surface is etched into with a circular sander, which creates a brushstrokes effect—a series of arcs reflecting light to form a visual “painting” without applied color. Smith anticipated that the piece, when set outdoors, would reflect the world around it and change with the light and seasons.

In 1960, Smith noted that he preferred all of his stainless steel pieces to be viewed outdoors: “They are conceived for bright light, preferably the sun, to develop the illusion of surface and depth…. Stainless steel seems dead without light.” Smith also recognized the extraordinary physical challenge of working with steel, whose “physical laws … do not permit the flow of realization as easily as most painting materials.” Sculpture, he observed, “demand[s] more premeditation and conviction, [more] assurance … than when the same form is indicated by paint or line on the plane surface.”


Other works by this artist
Albany I

Albany I, 1959


Becca, 1964

Cubi XXI, 1964

Raven V, 1959

The Iron Woman, 1954–58

Volton XX, 1963