Five Units Equal, 1956
6 ft. 1 1/4 in. x 16 in. x 14 in. (186.1 x 40.6 x 35.6 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
In 1960 Smith wrote that “since 1956 . . . block forms have possessed my consciousness.” Five Units Equal is an early example of this preoccupation. The leaning central spine is attributed to Smith’s preferred working method of welding components flat on the floor before lifting the piece upright to finish—a method that became a necessity as his sculptures grew increasingly larger and heavier. This painted sculpture exemplifies Smith’s desire to dissolve the boundaries between painting and sculpture by asserting the three-dimensional quality of the physical object that is simultaneously a two-dimensional surface for color.