LA CIENEGA AREA

Classic American abstract sculptor David Smith is seen in 38 small drawings related to his renowned works. The sheets date between 1954 and the year before his death in 1965. They inspire more polite scholarly interest than aesthetic rhapsody.

Gruff and animated, they are very like what we know of the man in person, workmanlike and factual rather than arty. Several, like "Sentinel III," sketch a sculpture and then note its weight, dimensions and date of completion.

This beguiling stevedore's approach to art quicksteps from archival material to pen drawings that reveal Smith's reverence for Brancusi and their shared roots in Megalithic simplicity. It's the kind of exhibition that will get its greatest appreciation from starry-eyed students eager for any snippet from the great man or from connoisseurs who only need to read footnotes. (Mekler Gallery, 651 N. La Cienega Blvd., to April 20.)

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