Leon Polk Smith (1906?1996) has a unique place in American geometric abstract painting, for his simple shapes, brilliant colours and intense compositions. This publication focuses on the pivotal moment in the 1950s when he moved from the Eurocentric influences of abstraction to forge his own visual language infused with the trends of the time.
Leon Polk Smith: Big Form, Big Space accompanies the recent exhibition of the same name at the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG), Vancouver (2021) and its extended presentation at Palm Springs Art Museum, California (2022), focusing on paintings and works on paper that chart a key moment in Smith?s career. Born outside Chickasha, in what would become Oklahoma, Smith grew up in a farming community among the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. During the 1950s, his work moved away from the Eurocentric impulses of his formative years to introduce and connect to themes, ideas, forms and conditions present in his rural upbringing and personal identity. Including critical essays by Barry Schwabsky and Ashley Holland, this extensively illustrated publication features a series of wide-ranging readings of Smith?s work, examining the complexities surrounding issues of context, time and identity within an appreciation of his place in hard-edge modernist abstraction. Leon Polk Smith (1906?1996) holds a unique place in the tradition of American geometric abstract painting, heralded for his lifelong commitment to simple shapes, brilliant colours and intense compositions. Since his first solo exhibition in New York City in 1941, he has been the subject of numerous retrospectives, with work included in major collections, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Whitney Museum of American Art.
Ashley Holland Ashley Holland is Associate Curator at Art Bridges Foundation, Bentonville, AR. Prior to Art Bridges, Holland was Assistant Curator of Native Art at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. Holland earned her doctorate in Art History from the University of Oklahoma, Norman with a focus on Indigenous identity, cultural memory and issues of diaspora in Cherokee contemporary art. She received her MA in Museum Studies from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis and her BA in Art History and Religious Studies from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Holland is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and currently lives in Rogers, Arkansas. Holland was recently the moderator for the roundtable discussion during Thinking, Making, Writing: A Mini-Symposium on Indigenous Studies and Art History in the Museum, Classroom, and Community, co-organised by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the University of Arkansas School of Art, Department of Art History. Nigel Prince Nigel Prince took up the position as Director of Artes Mundi in Cardiff, UK at the end of 2019. Prior to that he was Executive Director at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, Curator at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK and worked on founding International Project Space (IPS) also in Birmingham. Prince began his career at Tate Liverpool and alongside curatorial work has held several academic and research posts including Course Director at Birmingham City University. His work with contemporary artists is extensive and includes a vital range of partnerships with institutions including Ballet BC, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and museums and galleries worldwide. Prince continues to write about contemporary art for a wide range of publications and journals, most recently contributing to monographs on Lucy and Jorge Orta and Julia Dault. Barry Schwabsky Barry Schwabsky is an American art critic, art historian and poet. He has taught at the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, New York University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University and Goldsmiths College, among others. He is art critic for The Nation and also writes regularly for such publications as New Left Review and Artforum (where he is co-editor of international reviews). His art criticism books include: Words for Art: Criticism, History, Theory, Practice (Ram Publications); The Widening Circle: Consequences of Modernism in Contemporary Art (Cambridge University Press); and contributions to Abstract Painting: Concepts and Techniques and Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting (Phaidon Press). He has published books on Jessica Stockholder (Phaidon Press), Mel Bochner, Chloe Piene, Karin Davie, Dana Schutz, Alex Katz, Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation (Merrill Publishers), Henri Matisse and Alighiero Boetti, among others.