David and Goliath was made in Reykjavík in 1952-4. The wooden sculpture depicts the confrontation between David and the giant Goliath, recounted in the Old Testament.
The sculpture, which depicts two stylised human figures, comprises two parts: a strong vertical form signifying Goliath, and a rounded, diagonal form for David. The two parts are united by a cord – the sling from which David fires a stone, striking Goliath in the head and killing him.
While we can see a representation of David and Goliath here, the artist has utterly transformed the two characters. In this work, the space is being used primarily to provide scope for movement. The incident itself is what matters. Eyes, nose and mouth serve only to signal that these are human figures.
In his book Myndhöggvarinn Ásmundur Sveinsson (Ásmundur Sveinsson the Sculptor), art historian Björn Th. Björnsson writes: “Ásmundur calls one of his latest sculptures David and Goliath. It is the largest wooden sculpture he has made hitherto. It comprises two figures,
like so many of Ásmundur’s recent works: a hulking ogre and a lithe young man, who sends a shot from his sling into the giant’s forehead. Despite the title, this is far from being a biblical image. It is a formal visualisation of the struggle of the underdog against overwhelming power, armed only with his resourcefulness and intelligence. And in fact I know that what the artist has in mind here is the subject that is close to all our hearts. Just as the young David went out to face the champion of the Philistines, wearing no armour and carrying only his staff and five stones in his pouch, so Iceland now stands facing the heavily-armoured behemoths of this world, with nothing but its art and its language to defend itself.”