New York

Kimber Smith, Kup’s White Diamond, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 94 × 65 1⁄4".

Kimber Smith, Kup’s White Diamond, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 94 × 65 1⁄4".

Kimber Smith

Cheim & Read

“Cosmically we find that matter organizes around centers, which are often marked by a dominant mass,” the gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim once said, but “we cannot be grateful enough for living in a world that, for practical purposes, can be laid out along a grid of verticals and horizontals . . . the Cartesian grid.” In two early works by the abstract painter Kimber Smith (1922–1981) at Cheim & Read—Untitled, 1965, a modestly sized gouache on paper, and Kup’s White Diamond, 1970, a large acrylic on canvas—the center is utterly conspicuous. In the former, it is a pale, luminous void edged by golden bands; in the latter, it is a stuttering throng of rhomboid shapes, a sort of distorted or devious grid rendered mostly in primary colors. The gilded rings of the drawing Untitled, 1966–67, also lack proper cores, much like the quartet of emptied spheres on a navy ground in the painting Day

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