Off view

American, 1906–1965
Five Units Equal, 1956
Painted steel
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. 

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