David Smith was an American abstract expressionist sculptor and painter, best known for creating large steel abstract geometric sculptures.
Smith continued to paint and draw throughout his life. By 1953, he was producing between 300 and 400 drawings a year. His subjects encompassed the figure and landscape, as well as gestural, almost calligraphic marks made with egg yolk, Chinese ink and brushes. In 1957, Smith began using newly available commercial enamel paint, spraying directly from the aerosol can onto paper and canvas to create drawings and large-scale paintings that use found objects and invented forms as stencils.
This simple approach was somewhat contradictory. It enabled Smith to experiment with sculptural compositions unimpeded by weighty materials and to make paintings almost devoid of traditional touch. But he also combined aspects of photographs, photograms, X-rays and blueprints while offering ghostly immaterial after-images of temporary assemblages….Smith clearly had fun making these works, but he wasn’t just fooling around. The basic technique was an especially mobile form of stenciling. Metal bars, scraps or tools were laid on bare canvas or paper and sprayed around the edges with one or more colors.