Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Cubi XXV

Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit

Cubi XXV


David Smith

American, 1906-1965

Despite being one of the great innovators of modern sculpture during a prolific career that spanned more than three decades, Smith considered himself a painter at heart. Surfaces were of great significance to him, and he at times painted his sculptural forms. In his Cubi series, begun in 1961, he pioneered stainless steel as a material and burnished the surfaces in circular patterns that catch the light. Smith installed his finished sculptures in long rows outside his upstate New York studio, Bolton Landing, where sun and clouds continually animated the work. Like his fellow artists, Smith did not want his work limited by critical interpretation: “To understand a work of art, it must be seen and perceived, not worded…. The actual understanding of a work of art only comes through the process by which it was created—and that was by perception.”
Stainless steel
119 1/4 × 120 3/4 × 31 1/4 in. (302.9 × 306.7 × 79.4 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: The artist; Estate of the artist; [Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York]; Meshulam Riklis, New York; [Luis Mestre Fine Arts, New York]; purchased by Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1978; Friday Foundation, Seattle, Washington, 2018; to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2021
Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Painting and Sculpture, 1940–1970, Oct. 18, 1969 - Feb. 1, 1970. Cat. no. 375, pp. 60, 131, reproduced p. 313.

Cincinnati, Ohio, Contemporary Arts Center, Monumental Art, Sept. 13 - Nov. 1, 1970. Reproduced.

On loan to Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, prior to 1978.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, Oct. 15, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2022. Text by Michael Brenson. No cat. no., pp. 23, 44, 144-151, 193, reproduced pp. 145 (pl. 15), 146 (fig. 63), 182.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing.

Published ReferencesFry, Edward S. David Smith. New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. No cat. no., pp. 13, 154, 161.

Krauss, Rosalind E. The Sculpture of David Smith: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1977. Cat. no. 673, p. 121, reproduced fig. 673 as Cubi XV [sic].

Guenther, Bruce and Barbara Johns. The Richard and Jane Lang Collection. Exh. Cat. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1984. Cat. no. 42, reproduced p. 5. [Not included in exhibition.]

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM