The most important thing to know is who you are and what you stand for, and to acknowledge this identity in your time.  You cannot go back.  Art cannot go back.  The concepts in art are your history, there you start.  The projection beyond your filial heritage is as vast as the past.  The field for ideas is open and great, your heritage is universal, your position is equal to any in the world, except I can tell you no way to make a living at art…

It is identity, and not that overrated quality called ability, which determine the artist’s finished work.  Ability is but one of the attributes and acts only in degree.  Ability may produce a work, but identity produces the works before and after.  Ability may make the successful work in the eyes of the connoisseur, but identity can make the failures which are the most important to the artist.  What the critics term the failures are apt to be unresolved but of greatest projection.  They had to be done. They held the promise.  The promise, the hint of new vista, the unresolved, the misty dream, the artist should love even more that the resolved, for here is the fluid force, the promise and the search.

— David Smith, Unauthorized Introduction, Archives of American Art, 1947