Innovative 20th century paintings by Leon Polk Smith highlighted in new exhibition


. Leon Polk Smith, untitled, 1953, painting on canvas, 15.5 x 31.75 inches. © Leon Polk Smith Foundation. Photo: SITE Photography

Leon Polk Smith, untitled, 1955, paper on artist paper (embossed), 29.625 x 12.75 inches. © Leon Polk Smith Foundation. Photo: SITE Photography

. Leon Polk Smith, untitled, 1957, paper on paper, 26 x 20 inches.© Leon Polk Smith Foundation. Photo: Adam Reich

Palm Springs Art Museum has announced an exhibition featuring the work of the innovative painter, Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996), whose important contributions to 20th century art are increasingly recognized. The exhibition, Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962will run from March 26 to August 28, 2022 in the main downtown location of the museum.

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 painting’s most fundamental conventions by dissolving the distinction between foreground and background and freeing his paintings from the confines of a format. rectangular.

Born to half-Cherokee parents, Smith grew up and worked on the family farm in Oklahoma. At twenty-seven, Smith became fascinated with art, enrolled in a painting class during his senior year at college, and decided to become an artist. In 1952, at age forty-six, Smith moved full-time to New York. Soon after, his groundbreaking paintings caught the attention of art dealers and several young, ambitious abstract artists. Although Smith was never as widely recognized as some of his peers, he was a pioneer of “Hard-Edge Painting”, a movement characterized by sharp, unchanging and highly refined fields of color.
Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962 is an extended version of Leon Polk Smith: great shape, great space, curated by Nigel Prince and curated by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

The Palm Springs Art Museum presentation is curated by Adam Lerner, JoAnn McGrath Executive Director/CEO. Special thanks to the Leon Polk Smith Foundation. This season’s exhibitions are sponsored by the Herman & Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation and Yvonne & Steve (in memoriam) Maloney.

Upcoming exhibits at the Palm Springs Art Museum include Gonzalo Lebrija: Miracle of the Eternal Present, a survey of recent work by the acclaimed Mexican artist who works in a wide range of mediums including photography, video, sculpture and painting. It runs from April 22 to October 2, 2022 at the main downtown museum. At the Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Center, Pattern Play: the contemporary creations of Jacqueline Groag will examine the work of one of the most influential and versatile post-war model makers. The exhibition runs from May 12 to November 20, 2022.

For more information on Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits, programs and events, please visit or call (760) 322-4800.


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