|Jason McCoy Inc.
41 East 57 Street
New York 10022
Fax 212/319 4799
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leon Polk Smith
Invention: A Centennial Celebration of his Oeuvre
Collages and Gouaches from the 1950s
April 27-June 3, 2006
Jason McCoy, Inc. is pleased to present "Leon Polk Smith (1906 -1996); Invention: A Centennial Celebration of His Oeuvre," which focuses on collages and gouaches from the 1950s. This exhibition marks the first extensive show of Smith's work at the gallery since 1996.
Born in 1906, Smith grew up in a farming community of Choctaw and Chickasaw Native Americans in the territory later annexed by the Unites States as the state of Oklahoma. He studied at Oklahoma State College before moving to New York to pursue graduate study in art education at Columbia University's Teachers College. That same year, he was introduced to European Modernism through the work of Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Piet Mondrian, among others, when visiting an exhibition of the A.E. Gallatin Collection at the Gallery of Living Art, New York University.
Though these artists certainly had an impact on Smith's work, his signature style of hard edge abstraction went beyond one influence. As Carter Ratcliff explained in his catalogue essay for Smith's 1996 retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, there is a unique "American quality" to Smith's oeuvre, based on the artist's impulse and longing to discover a unique territory for himself. Whereas the late 1930s and 1940s saw Smith experiment with Surrealist and Expressionist styles, the following decade marked the artist's maturation of a unique visual formulation. Smith's hand reflected the freedom of a draughtsman using a Striper brush. With it, he achieved a clarity of line that captured all the nuances of a visceral Expressionism.
From the 1950s on, Smith's abstract compositions became increasingly distilled. Two unusual geometric shapes of deeply saturated hues, characterized by crisp outlines often define these works. The division of negative and positive space becomes blurred and the distinction between foreground and background simply no longer exists. While the clarity and openness of the compositional structure might bring the actual landscape of Smith's childhood and youth to mind, it more abstractly, provides both artist and viewer with a transcendental landscape for intimate self-reflection.
Stephanie B. Simmons
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm