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  #1  
Old 01-02-2009, 07:49 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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David Smith: questions to students

davidsmithestate.org/statements.html#questions
If you haven't read these. They can be great initiators of discussion. Put them with Serras "verbs" and Oldenberg's "I am for Art that..." and some other manifesto-ish drivel like Reinhardt's and Newman's:

Last edited by evaldart : 01-02-2009 at 08:05 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2009, 09:05 AM
outsider outsider is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

I'd like to ask David Smith if he knew he was being propped up by the C.I.A. All the famous abstract expressionists were made big by the C.I.A. in order to spread Westernism especially in Eastern Europe. Without this government support I highly doubt A.E. would have even gotton it's name. Smith was really just another block stacker who got picked as a sculptor in the group.
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:32 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

Most concoctions of conspiracy complain the OTHER way, O. Those damn Ruskies infected american thinking with their non-objective abstraction, suprematism etc Their motto was "density of the incomprehensible"...they perhaps enjoyed a further developed avante-garde than the americans who were not working together - who were flailing wildly as individuals. If there ever was a group that was useless to a government it would have been the abstract expressionits. But they got permission from Kandinsky and Malevich to go nuts...and they did (it could be argued that the black square stuff is the most imortant work of the 20th century).
But we should just leave it to the scribblers to make inane, and far-reaching connections between Art and all the lesser things that surround it. Thats THEIR job...dont worry, the volumes are ever hot off the presses, just be careful you dont get TOO distracted by them.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2009, 09:46 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

Eval, your argument gives the CIA account credibility in that since the Russians were involved in abstraction, that gave the Americans reason to develope their own and push their own. It was a cold war. Everything was tit for tat.

I just feel betrayed. I looked up to Smith until I found out he was not at all responsible for his own fame.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2009, 09:53 AM
grommet grommet is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

what's fame got to do with anything? There will always be manipulators in the world, as well as different levels of "networking". Cover your butt and don't worry about the rest; they just snack on your guts that could be otherwise occupied.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2009, 07:55 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

If you actually read up on this, like, for instance, This Essay-
http://books.google.com/books?id=vp-...sult#PPA295,M1

you will find its completely untrue that the CIA made anybody big.

I actually knew a few older artists whose work was in some of those shows- and there were two things that actually happened, at least to the guys I knew.

One- artworks were purchased, from the gallery, at normal prices, for american embassies abroad. This had a tiny impact on the artists, as the number of works that were bought from any one artist was usually only 2 to 10 pieces.

Two- artworks were borrowed, usually with very small payments, for one or two year long travelling shows, sponsored by CIA fronts like US AID.
This benefited most artists little or naught. The work was shown somewhere, sure, but not in places where it was actually shown to people who wanted to buy it. You got a line for your resume, and you got a painting or sculpture in limbo for a couple years, unable to sell it.
My friends didnt exactly quit their day jobs as a result of all this CIA help.


And then, there is the question- who, exactly, is responsible for their own fame?
I mean, if you are famous, it ought to be because your work is good, right?

Enough people think David Smith's work is good that he would have been just exactly as famous, CIA or no CIA.

Maybe somebody like Jeff Koons is responsible for his own fame, but I am not so convinced thats a good thing.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2009, 11:05 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

CIA, FBI, Corporate, Mom and Pop, the Pope, Government, whom-ever......an artist has to get their support from somewhere. It's what an artist does with that support that matters most.

David Smith made time for David Smith, that's what counts.
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2009, 04:50 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

Amazing thing about the CIA..... it's secret!!!!! Couple this secrecy with good old American pragmatic seeing is believing, and wa la !!! It did not happen! Oh, and lets throw in how there is an internet web page somewhere that can prove anything for anybody and everything for everyone.

Ries, sorry to hear your friends weren't chosen for the CIA fame program. The book by Francis Frascina you book mark could only at best be termed disinformation. Pragmatists! Believe what you want Ries.

Anybody who was propped up like Smith could have done what Smith did or better! He was run of the mill in the right place at the right time. He was a block stacker on par with any preschool child with a good set of blocks. Most of his sculpture was flat. He died trying to master 3d with his Cubi series. He was westernism! He held a part that many could have held; that of stodgy gritty welder of the fabricated packaged modern world.

Once again, it was politics over talent.

Last edited by outsider : 01-04-2009 at 05:03 PM.
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2009, 05:00 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

That sounds like one helluva thesis you got there...good enough fiction to get you a PHD.
You owe your life to Smith...nobody working steel had the nerve to do what he did at that time...he made all the rest possible. He was an original talent and I'm sure government agencies knew better than to screw-around with him.

But write it up...the computer boys would love to hear it.
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  #10  
Old 01-04-2009, 05:14 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

You don't get it Eval.
You don't get what I'm saying. What I'm saying is is that it could have been anybody. The right conversation in a bar is enough to turn an artist in a particular direction. The CIA manipulates people. That's what they do. Smith was picked. He was molded. He was cast. Put me in Smith's shoes I know I could have done better. That's what I'm saying! It could have been anybody! It could have been anybody!

The back of ones head is fiction for the pragmatist!
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  #11  
Old 01-04-2009, 06:10 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

More work and less escapist delusions...that's the ticket!
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  #12  
Old 01-05-2009, 08:39 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

In other words, shut up and avoid the truth, eh Glenn?
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  #13  
Old 01-05-2009, 08:59 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

What Glenn is saying is, and I concur: shot o' whisky, hell with the "truth" and get yer ass back to work.
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  #14  
Old 01-05-2009, 09:48 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

This IS work!
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  #15  
Old 01-05-2009, 09:59 AM
grommet grommet is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

You fishin' in people's heads for koi?
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  #16  
Old 01-06-2009, 12:27 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

Quote:
The CIA manipulates people. That's what they do. Smith was picked. He was molded. He was cast. Put me in Smith's shoes I know I could have done better. That's what I'm saying! It could have been anybody! It could have been anybody!
Ya think Smith's writings were encouraged or even ghost written by the CIA? Spooky guys those spooks. Maybe Glenn is right and I've been brain washed too.
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  #17  
Old 03-22-2009, 04:04 PM
denise lassaw denise lassaw is offline
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Re: David Smith: CIA etc

This makes a good story but I don't think it holds any water. I grew up in the NY art scene of those AbEx days, my father was one of the first abstract sculptors, de Kooning was my godfather, Pollock's dog left his tooth mark on my leg.. I knew all these people very well and I can swear that the CIA never paid our rent or the rent of anyone we knew. Yes, in 1959 there was a abex show in Moscow, organized by MoMA, and there was a traveling exhibition of Art in Embassies- neither of which paid the bills- and in those days artists didn't have "resume's" to add lines to. In the late 30's the Communists called AbEx degenerate and the US government called it communist - no government was ever on the artists side. there was no NEA, no State arts council grants.. being an artist was rough, esp. since there was not much hope of selling anything. My father worked for 20 years before selling his first sculpture in 1951. Our rent was 50 dollars a month (for a 40 x60' loft with 14 windows and 2 skylights on 12th st and 6th ave) and I have the letters from the landlord complaining that the rent was always late. In those early days all our friends were broke.. but youthful and dedicated to their work. I loved those times before money become so important.
Personally I think David Smith became so popular because much of his work is mostly flat and can be seen like a painting- and people tend to "understand" painting more than abstract 3D sculpture. Not to mention it doesn't take up a lot of 3D space and can be placed against the wall. Smith came to the studio one time when I was welding and scolded me for being barefoot..but it was summer and I had tough feet. Like Pollock , Smith was a romantic character and very "American" which in the 50's began to be a plus. In the 40's it was better to be European or at least have a European sounding name, but by the 50's cowboy artists-hard drinking etc were favored in NY. ( Also these guys were good.. although there were many others who were also very good and are now mostly forgotten). the fall of the dice...the whim of the art critic, the lucky meeting at a party, sometimes who you sleep with.... I think this has been going on for as long as human's have made beautiful things...the CIA couldn't help it or use it, or stop it.
Denise
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  #18  
Old 03-22-2009, 08:17 PM
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Re: David Smith: CIA etc

Denise, thank you for posting that. I greatly admire your father's work, count him as an early influence of mine and even have a beautiful serigraph of his on my office wall. Smith was quite good, but why some achieve the recognition they do while others are memories of friends/family or old tattered exhibition catalogs on a forgotten bookshelf truly is a mystery sometimes.
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  #19  
Old 03-22-2009, 09:42 PM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

Look, nobody here cares about the CIA and anecdotes and tall tales are delightful as myth. We've all got stories. What we should be examining here is artistic "ideals" which, we know, only WISH for understanding. HMM, I suppose that having merely encountered anyone, and maybe even having befriended them, does not permit a real understanding. That belongs to the artist alone, I'm afraid. I'm happy with a scrap or a crumb... And as much as the scribblers would love it, a black eye by the hand of Pollock will not give insight into his work...but maybe they should be glad he didnt knock out a tooth.

Last edited by evaldart : 03-23-2009 at 08:07 AM.
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  #20  
Old 03-23-2009, 03:20 AM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

How would you sponsor abstract expressionism anyway? Whip the artists to new depths of despair and self-loathing, maybe?
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Last edited by Portoro : 03-23-2009 at 07:46 AM.
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  #21  
Old 03-23-2009, 07:51 AM
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

What a fantasitc list of questions. The answer to your riddle is in them and i quote

28. Are you afraid of rawness, for rawness and harshness are basic forms of U.S. nature, and origins are both raw and vulgar at their time of creation?

29. Will you understand and accept yourself as the subject for creative work, or will your effort go toward adapting your expression to verbal philosophies by non-artists?

31. Do you trust your first response, or do you go back and equivocate consciously? Do you believe that the freshness of first response can be developed and sustained as a working habit?

34. When you accept the identification of artist do you acknowledge that you are issuing a world challenge in your own time?

35. Are you afraid to work from your own experience without leaning on the crutches of subject and the rational?

42. How long will you work before you work with the confidence which says, “What I do is art”?

44. Do you think acclaim can help you? Can you trust it, for you know in your secret self how far short of attainment you always are? Can you trust any acclaim any farther than adverse criticism? Should either have any effect upon you as an artist?
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  #22  
Old 03-23-2009, 10:48 AM
outsider outsider is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

If you are looking for rent receipts or canceled checks for evidence of CIA involvement you won't find the obvious. One very easy undetectable method of support can simply be a purchase. Who bought that first piece of sculpture in 1951, Denise? Perhaps you know. Perhaps you can swear that person was not a CIA operative. CIA operatives don't walk around in uniforms or do they even have badges to flash. An operative can be a regular person with a regular job.

The fact that there were traveling shows at the embassies and MOMA shows in Moscow does show the significance of pushing American culture. The cutting edge culture of the time was Ab/Ex. It was a cold war. That cutting edge art made the US much more popular than the USSR. It was the US that attracted artists from Eastern Europe, not the USSR. This made the US look very good. Ab/Ex was evidence of American freedom. Culture is most certainly used politically.

It could have been anyone. I would much rather be an artist in New York in the 50's than one today. Seems then the common person had a chance. Today it's all about how big the silver spoon stuck in your mouth is. Then again, without the money of Smiths wife, he never would have made it off that crappy dock he was working on.

Smith was marginal at best, a block stacker. I had my career ruined by the CIA. Someone who was later found to be a CIA operative slipped me powerful LSD when I was 17 that induced a manic episode and gave me bi-polar disorder. Read my blog.... www.Y-16.com

Yeah.... call me crazy for what YOU don't know!

Last edited by outsider : 03-23-2009 at 11:14 AM.
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  #23  
Old 03-23-2009, 02:58 PM
denise lassaw denise lassaw is offline
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Re: David Smith: first sale in 1951

I do know who bought the first sculpture, and the second and most of the others. The first sculpture was bought by another artist who was a formr student of my fathers and lived on a small farm in Penn. But no matter who bought the sculpture, and in those days it was a matter of a couple hundred bucks- how can that be useful to the CIA? On the grand scale of things the NY art world was pretty small, and influenced by the surrealists and the constructivists in Europe. Art of any kind wasn't that important and most politicians didn't seem to care about it. Science and industrial creativity was far more important for the international egos of countries.
oh well . . I just don't have the time to go into all this- I am repairing an important work from the 1940's thats been sitting in the studio for zillions of years.
Denise
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  #24  
Old 03-23-2009, 03:28 PM
outsider outsider is offline
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Re: David Smith: questions to students

You knew the buyers others did not. It's a bit like a Stimulus package. A couple hundred bucks here and a couple there, next thing you know, you are sponsoring an entire movement. The whole Ab/Ex movement was propped up by the CIA. Where would the forefront of art been without Ab/Ex? As small as one says it was, the movement sent reverberating repercussions world wide. The Ab/Ex movement spelled freedom, and the U.S. had the bull by the horns and was charging forward.

Last edited by outsider : 03-23-2009 at 04:18 PM.
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  #25  
Old 04-02-2009, 02:18 PM
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Wink Re: David Smith: questions to students

Just look at David Smith's works. He did not need any CIA pushing to be as great as he was and is. Even at that, most great artists have a patron. Would you say the same about Michelangelo and the Medici?
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