In Cubi X gleaming stainless steel rectangles and squares of various dimensions are assembled to evoke the human figure. Despite its monumental scale, the organization of the asymmetrical forms onto a variety of spatial planes—vertical, tilted, or horizontal—leads the eye upward, against gravity. Between 1961 and 1965, Smith made a series of twenty–eight sculptures that he termed “Cubi.” The name, which Smith invented, links them to Cubism. The geometric shapes, their two–dimensional orientation, and the shimmering effects of the polished and scratched stainless steel surfaces recall the paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque from the early twentieth century.
Gallery label from 2007.
Smith often worked in series. Cubi, his last and best known, consists of twenty-eight stainless steel sculptures made between 1961 and 1965. Cubi X is an abstract construction of geometric forms that evokes, through its vertical orientation, the human figure. It can be shown indoors or out, and its burnished surface catches and reflects the surrounding light. “This is the only time, in these stainless steel pieces, that I have been able to utilize the light and I depend upon the reflective power of light,” Smith said of the work. “It does have a semi-mirror reflection and I like it in that sense because no other material in sculpture can do that.”
Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.