Raven V, 1959
59 x 55 x 11 in. (149.9 x 139.7 x 27.9 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
Raven V is one of seven in a series made between 1955 and 1960. In this work Smith incorporated a prefabricated round boiler tank, an object he employed to explore a fascination with concave and convex forms, and which held a significant place in his formal vocabulary for a decade. Without bulk or solid mass, the tank end adds volume, shape, line, and contour to a welded tangle of steel bars, geometric forms, and found objects. The resulting form is then balanced atop a slender stainless steel rod. The entire surface of the central composition was treated by Smith with layers of acid and paint to oxidize the metal, adding to the stark contrasts between rough and smooth in this work’s surfaces, textures, and compositions.