Leon Polk Smith

Leon Polk Smith was a leading practitioner of the geometric, hard-edge abstraction popular in the mid-twentieth century. His paintings and prints embrace both Smith’s American Indian heritage and the modernist abstraction of artists like Dutch De Stijl painter Piet Mondrian. Smith’s bicultural experiences informed his devotion to geometric patterning and pure colors—he derived formal elements from the design and craft of native peoples and the avant-garde’s credo of non-representation and economy of expression.


A major retrospective of his career has been presented by the Brooklyn Museum and solo exhibitions at institutions such as Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas Museum of Fine Arts in Fort Worth, Musée de Grenoble, and Butler Museum of American Art in Youngstown. His work has been included in group exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, among many others.


Courtesy of the Tamarind Institute

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