Detroit Queen
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Detroit Queen is one of many sculptures by Smith that personify identifiable or imagined individuals. These range from the totemic suggestion of figures to compositions that more thoroughly embody the human form. Not simply a phase in the artist’s development, these figural works were preceded and followed by more abstract sculptures. This monumental figure demonstrates Smith’s unwillingness to be categorized by medium or technique; it includes both large welded elements and small casts of machine components, transformed by proximity into body parts and facial features. Like Picasso, whose career he emulated, Smith pursued a variety of stylistic approaches, repeatedly incorporating his earlier interests into successive works. Detroit Queen, whose title may refer to the primacy of the automobile industry, certain components of the sculpture, or the figure’s haughty pose, owes a debt to cubism’s fractured portraiture and the hybrid creatures of surrealism, even as it exemplifies the postwar focus on the human figure.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1994.15
People
David Smith, American (Decatur, IN 1906 - 1965 Bennington, VT)
Title
Detroit Queen
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
1957
Places
Creation Place: North America, United States
Culture
American
Location
Level 1, Room 1330, Modern and Contemporary Art, New Images
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
180.3 x 63.5 x 64.8 cm (71 x 25 x 25 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: On base: David Smith , Signed Date: 1957
  • inscription: on base: Det. Q.
Provenance
David Smith, sold; to Lois Orswell, (1957-1994), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1994.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Krauss 417
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell
Copyright
© The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, NY
Accession Year
1994
Object Number
1994.15
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
Publication History

Rosalind E. Krauss, The Sculpture of David Smith, a Catalogue Raisonné, Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York, NY, 1977), cat. no. 417

Sarah Kianovsky, David Smith: This Work is My Identity, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1995), reproduced in b/w cover, p. 3

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 212, figs. 84-87, pp. 206-211

Brooke Kamin Rapaport, ed., The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2007), p. 9, fig. 8

Exhibition History

David Smith: "This work is my identity", Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/03/1995 - 05/05/1996

HAA 1 Survey Course: Landmarks of World Art and Architecture [Spring 2007], Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/26/2007 - 04/08/2007

HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture (Spring 2010), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/05/2010 - 05/09/2010

32Q: 1330 Mid-Century Figurative, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 01/01/9999

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted