On the occasion of “David Smith: A Centennial,” the marvelous exhibition that has been organized this winter at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Carmen Giménez, I am obliged to declare an interest. For it would be improper for me to pretend to write about Smith with an attitude of critical impartiality. I have not only admired Smith’s work since I first encountered it half a century ago, but I also have written a good deal about it. I had the good fortune of having many conversations with Smith about his life and work, and often visited his studio, which he called the Terminal Iron Works, in upstate New York.

In 1960, when I was working as the editor of Arts Magazine, I devoted a Special Issue of that journal to Smith’s work—a decision that was not then universally acclaimed, to say the least. Smith had never enjoyed the kind of celebrity that came early to Jackson Pollock and certain other...


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