This exhibition, curated by Dr. Jennifer Field, Executive Director of The Estate of David Smith, is organized to commemorate The Hyde Collection’s sixtieth anniversary as a public museum. It features approximately thirty loans from major private and public collections, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Harvard Art Museums, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Estate of David Smith, along with a selection of archival materials from the Estate and works from The Hyde’s permanent collection. This project is the first museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the indelible influence of music and dance on Smith’s work in painting, drawing, and sculpture.
David Smith (1906-1965) settled permanently in Bolton Landing, New York in 1940 with the artist Dorothy Dehner. The Adirondack region that encompasses Bolton Landing and Glens Falls became inseparable from Smith’s artistic practice. A dialogue with nature—the mountain landscape, the change of seasons, the flight of birds—is reflected in his artwork in every medium. In the 1940s, inspired by modern dance and concerts held both locally and in New York City, he made inventive works of art that depict dancing figures and musicians playing instruments. Music was intrinsic to Smith’s life and work. “I use the music as company in the manual labor part of a sculpture,” he later explained.
As part of Smith’s commitment to the area, he became deeply involved with the foundation of The Hyde Collection prior to his death in 1965. Mrs. Charlotte Hyde, founder of the Museum, was a friend of David Smith. There were very close bonds between the sculptor and Mrs. Hyde’s curators, Otto Wittman and Jerry Dodge, and also her long-time friend and Chair of her trustees, the artist and experimental filmmaker Douglass Crockwell. Smith was one of the Collection’s earliest trustees. He curated The Hyde’s very first summer exhibition, installing his own sculptures on the lawn. In the spirit of that inaugural event, Songs of the Horizon: David Smith, Music, and Dance will feature two graceful, vertical sculptures from later in Smith’s career measuring up to twelve feet tall, that poetically evoke the essence of music, dance, and nature. This exhibition also includes a selection of works by Dorothy Dehner In acknowledgment of the vital role she played in Smith’s early career and his life in the Adirondacks.