Born in Decatur, Indiana on March 9, 1906, Smith grew up in Paulding, Ohio, where his father Harvey ran the Paulding Telephone Company and mother Golda taught school. He studied at Ohio University and the University of Notre Dome, but dropped out to become a welder on an automobile production line in South Bend, Indiana. He joined the Art Students League of New York in 1927. There, he discovered the works of Picasso, Mondrian, Kandinsky, and the Russian Constructivists, and became friends with Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jan Matulka, and Jackson Pollock. Smith was profoundly influenced by the welded sculptures of Julio Gonzalez and of Picasso, he then started devoting himself entirely to metal sculptures, constructing compostions from steel and "found" scrap metals. However in the 50's Smith worked on a larger scale than ever before constucting huge objects of steel.
David Smith, Cubi XXVII, Steel 1965