Considered one of the founders of the hard-edge style of Minimalist art, Leon Polk Smith (1906–1996) rose to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s with his distinctive shaped canvas series — the ‘Correspondences’ and the ‘Constellations’.
These large canvases typically consist of two vibrantly-coloured painted shapes defined by a precise but often irregular contour. While Minimalist peers of his during that time were shifting away from Modernism, Smith was wholeheartedly advancing the formal and rational elements of the Modernist tradition.
Much of Smith’s work was inspired by Native American artistic traditions and he frequently used canvases which were round or other non-standard shapes.
A retrospective of Smith’s work was organized by The Brooklyn Museum in 1996. His work is in numerous public and private collections worldwide including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; MACBA – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Published on the occasion of an exhibition at Lisson Gallery, New York (8 September – 21 October 2017).