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Cubi VII

A work made of stainless steel.
© 2019 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

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  • A work made of stainless steel.




David Smith
American, 1906–1965

About this artwork

David Smith was among the first American artists to master the use of steel and other industrial materials. After many years of working metal into evocative linear compositions, he forged a new, formal language for sculpture through increased focus on shape, volume, surface, and structure. Cubi VII is part of a series executed in the four years that preceded his untimely death in 1965; the twenty-eight sculptures are most known for their use of industrial stainless steel. While the spare, sleek forms of the Cubi series relate them to Minimalist sculpture of the 1960s, the works also reflect the artist’s connection to Abstract Expressionism in the gestural quality of their wire-brushed surfaces and their attendant emotive power. Its abstract qualities intact, Cubi VII also seems to allude to the human figure. Indeed, the large, central form and adjacent shapes evoke a torso with limbs. Yet when one walks around the sculpture, it becomes less a symbol of the human form than a vehicle for exploring the relationship between architectonic volumes and the space surrounding them. Despite its solidity, the piece appears to have no fixed center, and its elements seem precariously positioned, challenging accepted notions of balance. The reflective, burnished surfaces of Cubi VII pick up the shifting light of its outdoor site—the Art Institute’s north garden on Michigan Avenue.


On View, North Garden


Contemporary Art


David Smith


Cubi VII


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Stainless steel


281.9 × 175.3 × 58.4 cm (111 × 69 × 23 in.)

Credit Line

Grant J. Pick Purchase Fund

Reference Number



© 2019 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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