Palm Springs Art Museum presents an exhibition featuring the work of the innovative painter, Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996), whose significant contributions to twentieth-century art are becoming increasingly recognized. The exhibition, Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962, will run March 26 – August 28, 2022 in the museum’s main downtown location.
This presentation focuses on paintings and works on paper from the 1950s when Smith’s mature style began to flourish. Using a vocabulary of brilliant colors and simple, minimal forms, he challenged some of the most fundamental conventions of painting by dissolving the distinction between foreground and background and freeing his paintings from the boundaries of a rectangular format.
Born to half-Cherokee parents, Smith grew up and worked on his family’s farm in Oklahoma. At age twenty-seven, Smith became fascinated by art, enrolled in a painting class during his senior year in college and decided to become an artist. In 1952, at age forty-six, Smith moved full time to New York City. Soon afterwards, his groundbreaking paintings attracted the attention of art dealers and several ambitious young abstract artists. Though Smith was never as widely recognized as some of his peers, he was a pioneer of “Hard-Edge Painting,” a movement characterized by clean, unvarying, sharply refined fields of color.
Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962 is an expanded version of Leon Polk Smith: Big Form, Big Space, curated by Nigel Prince and organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. The Palm Springs Art Museum presentation is curated by Adam Lerner, JoAnn McGrath Executive Director/CEO.
Native American art from Oklahoma
As the terminus for the Trail of Tears and the site of forced relocation for dozens of Indigenous tribes and nations from across North America, Oklahoma has produced a staggering number of contemporary Native American art makers. In addition to Leon Polk Smith, there’s Jeffrey Gibson, Nocona Burgess and Starr Hardridge. Joyce Nevaquaya Harris and her family. Billy Hensley. Anita and Yakita Starr Fields, Brent Learned.
At the head of the class, of course, are two of contemporary Native American art’s giants: the great T.C. Cannon and Allan Houser.
Oklahoma is not only “Indian Country,” it’s “Contemporary Indian Arts Country.”Indigenous artindigenous artist