Lot 14
  • 14

David Smith

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 USD
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  • David Smith
  • Land Coaster
  • inscribed with the artist's signature and dated 2/10/60
  • painted steel
  • 97 by 27 by 29 in. 246.4 by 68.6 by 73.7 cm.


Estate of the Artist
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lloyd, Nassau (acquired from the above in December 1969)
Mrs. Pierre Schlumberger, Paris
Christie's New York, November 9, 1993, Lot 24 (consigned by the above)
Private Collection
Sotheby's, New York, November 1, 1994, Lot 20 (consigned by the above)
The Pace Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1995


New York, French & Co., Sculpture by David Smith, February - March 1960, no. 21
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; and Washington, D.C., The Corcoran Gallery, David Smith, March - December 1969, p. 114, no. 67, illustrated


David Smith, "Notes on My Work," Arts Magazine 34, no. 5, February 1960, p. 47, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Exh. Cat., Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (and travelling), David Smith 1906 - 1965: A retrospective exhibition, 1966, p. 78, no. 391 (text)
David Lee, "David Smith alla Guggenheim," Le Arti XIXI, no. 9, September 1969, p. 31, illustrated 
Cleve Gray, Ed., David Smith by David Smith: Sculpture and Writings, New York and London, 1968, p. 136, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Rosalind E. Krauss, Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith, Cambridge, 1971, p. 9, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop) 
Patricia Railing, "La Sculpture Américaine de 1940 à 1959," XXe Siecle 40, June 1973, p. 157, illustrated
Rosalind Krauss, The Sculpture of David Smith: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York and London, 1977, p. 90, no. 490 (text), and n.p., illustrated 
Exh. Cat., Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, David Smith, 1982, p. 31, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop), pp. 31-33 (text), pp. 173-174 (text), and p. 176, no. 4, illustrated 
Stanley E. Marcus, David Smith: The Sculptor and His Work, Ithaca, 1983, p. 125, no. 49, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Exh. Cat., Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordhein-Westfalen (and travelling), David Smith: Skulpturen, Zeichnungen, 1986, p. 44, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop) 
Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, David Smith: Related Clues, 2004, p. 3, illustrated (in progress at Bolton Landing), and p. 35, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Exh. Cat., Dallas, Texas, Nasher Sculpture Center, David Smith: Drawing and Sculpting, 2005, p. 47, no. 10, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Exh. Cat., Düsseldorf, Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, David Smith: Working Surface: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing 1932-63, 2009, p. 96, no. 4, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop) 
Exh. Cat., Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, David Smith Invents, 2011, p. 79, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Sarah Hamill, David Smith: Works, Writings, Interviews, Barcelona, 2011, p. 68, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Sarah Hamill, David Smith in Two Dimensions: Photography and the Matter of Sculpture, Oakland, 2015, p. 7, no. 5, illustrated (in progress at the artist's Bolton Landing workshop)
Susan J. Cooke, Ed., Collected Writings, Lectures, and Interviews, Oakland, 2018, p. 337 (text)


This sculpture is in excellent condition. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at +1 (212) 606-7254 for the report prepared by Jackie Wilson of Wilson Conservation, LLC.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

One of the most distinguished sculptors of the post-war period, David Smith radically introduced the language of industrial manufacturing and metallurgy into post-war fine art , expressing through his large-scale sculptural compositions the mythology of Abstract Expressionist painters. Executed in 1960, Land Coaster is an early example of Smith’s mastery of metallurgy and his experimental handling of three-dimensional space and form. The welded elements of Land Coaster present an elegant yet weighty presence that, conceptualized around open spaces rather than carved in concrete form, testify to Smith’s sophisticated genius for balancing void and solid within a single sculpture, and his appreciation for figurative and natural imagery while prioritizing sculptural integrity. Contributing to the importance of the present work in Smith’s grand oeuvre, Land Coaster belongs to a limited number of sculptures beginning in 1957 with Wheel III which incorporate wheels as an integral element of their design, the inclusion of which as a purely aesthetic element with no intended utilitarian purpose radically collided pure form with industrial use value. Undoubtedly influenced by Alberto Giacometti’s Chariot executed ten years prior in 1950, Land Coaster refers back to Smith’s earliest body of works which more clearly reveal the influence of Giacometti’s sculptural Surrealism, while simultaneously showcasing Smith’s innovative spirit and experimental approach to sculpture. In Land Coaster, star-like metal disks rise out of the wheeled platform base, pre-existing elements which Smith has intricately welded together in a collage-like composition such that they sweep skyward with a degree of movement and agility that belies the weightiness of the metal elements and brings to mind the clustering of stars in an astronomical constellation. Demonstrating Smith’s captivating ability to suggest latent figuration through total abstraction, Land Coaster carefully retains a sense of the human figure: a circular disk crowns the top of the vertical structure like a head, and the two wheels at its base ground Land Coaster like feet. In its intricate geometric logic and arresting frontality, the present work is particularly evocative of the artist’s Cubi sculptures; evincing the captivating juxtaposition of abstract form with compelling figuration for which the revered Cubi are known.

In a series of oft-reproduced photographs, Land Coaster is remarkably captured in progress on Smith’s garage studio floor at Bolton Landing and identified by Smith himself with inscriptions on the photograph. Capturing Land Coaster in a state of half-completion magnificently reveals the collage-like approach of found readymade materials that Smith took to his sculptural compositions. Assuming approximately the positions of their ultimate three-dimensional arrangement, the distinct elements of Land Coaster here lay arranged on a strip of floor which Smith painted white. This approach uniquely allowed Smith to compose and rearrange elements without concern of gravity, and the white floor provided him a sharp contrast of color that facilitated his ability to imagine negative space in the finished work. This photograph also reveals numerous works underway in varying stages of completion, notably Doorway on Wheel, also from 1960 and now in the permanent collection of the Harvard Art Museum. That Smith simultaneously worked on and revised numerous sculptures at once reveals the meticulous consideration and painstaking deliberation he paid each element and the collaborative approach he took to creating these sculptures, each informing and influencing one another. Magnificently capturing Smith’s exceptional craftsmanship and exemplifying his revolutionary understanding of sculpture as “drawing in space”, Land Coaster is an enduring monument to the legacy of one of American postwar art’s most radical sculptural innovators.