Base for Growing Forms

Accession Number

Base for Growing Forms

David Smith

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
wood base

41 3/10 in x 13 in x 13 in (104.93 cm x 33.02 cm x 33.02 cm);41 3/10 in x 13 in x 13 in (104.93 cm x 33.02 cm x 33.02 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Charles E. Palmer in honor of Jean Paul Slusser

Label copy
David Smith belonged to a circle of American artists, including Gorky and Gottlieb, who were exposed to Surrealist ideas before European exiles came to New York. A sense of organic growth, a main concern of Surrealism, infuses Smith’s Growing Forms. This sculpture, sitting on a Brancusi-like base, has been interpreted by Rosalind Kraus as depicting a fetus suspended in a capsule. A totemic image of enclosure and protection, the enwombed yet revealed body of this sculpture was the first of several iterations in Smith’s oeuvre.
(Label copy from exhibition "Dreamscapes: The Surrealist Impulse," August 22 - October 25, 1998)
David Smith belonged to a circle of American artists, including Arshile Gorky (1904–1948) and Adolf Gottlieb (1903–1974), who were experimenting with Surrealist ideas before European artists belonging to that movement emigrated to New York during World War II. Surrealism injected dreams, imagination, fantasy, and chance into rational ways of seeing. A sense of organic growth, a main concern of surrealism, infuses Smith’s "Growing Forms." One critic has interpreted this sculpture as a fetus suspended in a capsule. Through its play of solids and voids, the bodily form here speaks of enclosure and protection as well as openness and vulnerability.
(A. Dixon, 20th Century Gallery installation, June 1999)

Subject matter
base for the sculpture, Growing Forms.

Physical Description
A column of wood carved by turning into a stack of fat discs.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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modern and contemporary art


Smith married the artist Dorothy Dehner in 1927 and was supported partly through her income through the Depression. Dehner and Smith traveled Europe together (she had already been before they met). She was also a multitalented and well regarded sculptor, whose poetic and linguistic ability led him to frequently rely on her suggestions for titles.
— by Sophie Grillet (October 26 2022 @ 5:10 pm)
— by Sophie Grillet (October 26 2022 @ 5:27 pm)

3 Related Resources

Art of interest to Judaic Studies
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
European Primitivisms
(Part of 12 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M01 (Joan and Robert Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art)