Bec-Dida Day, an outdoor sculpture by American born artist David Smith (1906-1965) now in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, was recently photographed in the Digitization Lab at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH). During his career, Smith’s work was featured at venues around the world, including the 1939-1940 World’s Fair in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and traveling shows originating from exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). An inaugural member of the National Council on the Arts, Smith exhibited a life-long love of art.
David Smith began as a cartoonist in high school and experimented with various art forms and mediums throughout his life. The man who became one of the most notable American abstract sculptors was also an avid painter and photographer. Many of Smith’s works in iron and steel sculpture, a competence he developed while working with riveting, soldering and welding at an automobile factory in his twenties, were finished by painting the surfaces, some with automobile paints.
Bec-Dida Day was created as a celebration of his daughters, Rebecca and Candida, and the annual summer joint birthday party that he hosted at his upstate New York residence in their honor. The sculpture was fabricated in 1963 at Smith’s Terminal Iron Works studio located in Bolton Landing, New York. Smith sculpted Bec-Dida Day, like many of his other sculptures, with the intention of having it viewed alongside nature.
Bec-Dida Day has a long history of outdoor exhibition, from its time in the mountaintop fields of Smith’s Bolton Landing residence to its installation here at the Yale University Art Gallery on Chapel Street in front of the historic Street Hall. While giving context to art and enriching viewer experience, outdoor exhibition causes wear and tear on sculptures. As a result, Bec-Dida Day was recently the subject of a major research and conservation project led by Carol Snow, Deputy Chief Conservator and the Alan J. Dworsky Senior Conservator of Objects at the Art Gallery. Research by Conservation Fellow Elena Torok and Assistant Conservator Anne Gunnison informed the process of conservation that Carol Snow undertook. The results of their work were photographed by Senior Photographer Tony De Camillo for the Art Gallery for inclusion in the upcoming exhibition The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art: Selections from the Linda Leonard Schlenger Collection and the Yale University Art Gallery and on the Art Gallery’s website.
To learn more about this sculpture, please see: http://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/84245
Images of Bec-Dida Day and many other objects are available for free unrestricted download through Yale’s generous Open Access policy.
To learn more about David Smith, please see: http://www.davidsmithestate.org