Some years after the death of David Smith (1906–1965), Clement Greenberg, then executor of his estate, made a decision to have the white painted surface stripped from five sculptures and present them as authentic works by the artist. In removing what he considered to be a temporary primer coating that had already begun to deteriorate, Greenberg believed that he was restoring unfinished works to a state that would more accurately reflect Smith’s artistic intention, something over which he felt he could claim to have authority. Although supported in his actions by several prominent critics at the time, Greenberg was tarnished by the scandal and resigned from the estate in 1979. Raising questions about authenticity, the value of the original, the availability of the artist’s intent and who speaks for the artist after his death, a discussion on the reasons behind the original alteration and subsequent restoration of these works by the present David Smith Estate is provided. The idea that a single authentic state for Smith’s stripped sculptures can be identified is questioned, and possibility of authenticity being linked to multiple biographies of the work is suggested.
|Title of host publication||The Real Thing?|
|Subtitle of host publication||Authenticity and Replication: The “Real Thing?” in Art and Conservation|
|Editors||Erma Hermens, Frances Lennard, Rebecca Gordon|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Feb 2014|