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Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

Cello Player

Artist: David Smith (1906 - 1965)
Date: ca. 1946
22 11/16 x 30 1/2 in. (57.6 x 77.5 cm)
Framed: 30 × 38 × 4 in.
Medium: Oil on board
Credit Line: Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
On View
Label TextDavid Smith painted Cello Player as if musician and instrument are blended. The figure’s head assumes the shape of a cello bridge fixed with interlocking pegs. His right thumb transforms into the instrument’s fingerboard and his left arm into strings, which in turn morph into spidery fingers. In fusing the forms of the musician and his cello, Smith asserts their perfect harmony.

The artist’s merging of angular, pronged, and curved shapes evokes the intense poses of a performing cellist. Contemporary photographs of cello masters posing with their long, strong fingers on their instruments likely inspired Smith’s painting.