New York

Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1953, pencil and collage on paper, 18 × 12 3⁄4".

Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1953, pencil and collage on paper, 18 × 12 3⁄4".

Leon Polk Smith

Senior & Shopmaker Gallery

This exhibition of fifteen small, intimate, and oddly fugitive works on paper—prints, drawings, and collages—by the late Leon Polk Smith (1906–1996) gave the viewer a glimpse into the sundry phases of thinking and making that marked the long career of this twentieth-century painter. Smith tackled a range of movements that focused on abstraction, from De Stijl to hard-edge painting and even Minimalism. But such labels tell us little about his singular success in giving precise aesthetic purpose to geometrical form and vivid hues.

Take Little Dogies at Night, 1942, which features an eccentric grid of squares and rectangles depicted in black, white, gray, and primary colors. There’s a sense of compression, closure, even claustrophobia, as the shapes and hues crowd each other and at times overlap. The piece, rendered in oil, scintillates with a certain jazzy liveliness—a sense of inconclusive

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