Leon Polk Smith: Prints, Drawings, and Collages

Through July 26

 Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings and collages by abstract painter Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996), its second at the gallery. Organized in cooperation with the Leon Polk Smith Foundation, the exhibition will be on view from June 6 through July 19, 2019.   Polk Smith holds a unique place in the tradition of American Geometric Abstract painting together with such artists as Burgoyne Diller, Fritz Glarner, Al Held, and Ellsworth Kelly.  Drawing and collage held a primary place in Polk Smith’s practice, complementing and paralleling his work on canvas. Of the drawings on view, which range in date from 1942 to 1979, several have never before been exhibited, such as the collage Dracenia, 1954.

Shortly after his arrival in New York from Oklahoma in 1936, Polk Smith departed from his earlier Cubist style and began working with a new geometric vocabulary inspired by the De Stijl paintings of Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg which he encountered for the first time.  Three excellent examples from the 1940s are included in the exhibition.  His respect for the work of the Dutch constructivists formed the foundation of his methods upon which he built a highly original painting practice that questioned ideas of space, perspective, and color.  These explorations of non-objective imagery put Polk Smith at the forefront of such art historical movements as Color Field, Minimalist, and Hard Edge painting movements.

Polk Smith's work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art, among others. Recent exhibitions include Geometry in Motion: Leon Polk Smith Works on Paper, organized by the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, 2017-2018. In 2017, Lisson Gallery, New York organized an exhibition of Leon Polk Smith's shaped, multi-part “Constellation” series of paintings from the late 1960s and 70s.