Exposition Art Blog: Leon Polk Smith - Geometric Abstraction

Leon Polk Smith - Geometric Abstraction

Leon Polk Smith (1906–1996) was an American painter. His geometrically oriented abstract paintings were influenced by Piet Mondrian and his style has been associated with the Hard-edge school, of which he is considered one of the founders.
Smith was born near Chickasha, Oklahoma a year before it became a state. He grew up among American Indians of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes. He graduated from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma in 1934. He moved to New York City in 1936, where he attended Columbia University, and remained in New York for the rest of his life.Much of Smith's work was inspired by the interchange between positive and negative space and using as few elements as possible to create a convincing space, object, or motion. He frequently used canvases which were round or other non-standard shapes and painted with close valued colors.Wikipedia
"Leon Polk Smith, a painter who furthered the development of American geometric abstraction, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. Mr. Smith was 91 and also had a home in Shoreham, L.I.In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Mr. Smith became known for paintings whose simplified shapes and brilliant colors were at once pure and playful, worldly and ascetic. Although never considered a major artist, he arrived at geometry before others did and remained steadfastly loyal to its principles, cultivating aspects of scale and simplicity that presaged the Hard-Edge and Minimal painting styles of the late 1950's and 60's.By the mid-50's, his most characteristic works were often shaped, sometimes modular paintings that seemed barely to contain the bold forms painted on them, creating an expansive if sometimes graphic energy. Several critics felt that Mr. Smith's big-scale simplicity and use of biomorphic shapes influenced younger artists like Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman and Al Held, all of whom visited his studio in the mid-50's."(nytimes.com)

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