David Smith-Tanktotem IV-1953 237.49 x 86.36 x 73.66 cm
David Smith-Tanktotem VII-1960
Smith has stated that he was innately drawn to these environments because the “associations the metal possesses are those of this century: power, structure, movement, progress, suspension, destruction, brutality.”
As the title suggests, the concept of a “totem” pole—an indigenous art form in which carvings representing related individuals are stacked on top of each other—also inspired Smith, who sought to create his own interpretation. Poised on three curving legs, Smith’s anthropomorphic figure is an enduring symbol of universal humanity.