Leon Polk Smith
East Hampton, 20 May – 31 May 2021
For the latest exhibition in East Hampton, Lisson Gallery is pleased to present a selection of works by Leon Polk Smith, the influential American artist considered one of the founders of hard-edge style of Minimal, abstract art. The presentation features an important 1967 multi-panel canvas painting as well as a group of rare early works on paper from the 1940s.
The exhibition tracks the trajectory of Leon Polk Smith’s practice from an exploration of Piet Mondrian’s Neo-Plasticism in the 1940s to a unique visual vocabulary of soft curves and distinctive shaped canvases that would come to exemplify Smith’s body of work in the 1960s and 70s. The 1967 work on view, Yellow Diamond, embodies this singular language which subverted the prevailing laws of mid-century Abstract Expressionism and balanced pure, geometric forms with vibrant colors and unorthodox canvases. In this work Smith conjoins two oval canvases, their shapes stabilized by hard-edged contours in yellow and black that reflect the Native American aesthetics and philosophy of the artist’s upbringing combined with the artistic innovation and vibrancy he experienced while living in New York City.
Shown for the first time at Lisson Gallery, Smith’s early works on paper demonstrate the influence of the De Stijl generation on his artistic journey. Smith discovered the work of Mondrian at the Albert E. Gallatin Gallery of Living Art at New York University during his studies at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1936. This encounter, along with those of the work of Constantin Brancusi and Hans Arp, profoundly changed his perception of color, form and most importantly, space within his works, which, combined with his own upbringing amongst the vast plains of the Oklahoma landscape, created his intuitive style.
This exhibition is presented in East Hampton ahead of a solo exhibition of works by Leon Polk Smith, curated by Lynn Zelevansky and opening this September at the gallery’s flagship location at 504 West 24th Street in New York. Smith’s work is currently the subject of two major solo museum exhibitions in North America. Leon Polk Smith: Hiding in Plain Sight is on view through July 4, 2021 at the Heard Museum of Art in Phoenix, Arizona, and Leon Polk Smith: Big Form, Big Space is on view at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver until August 22, 2021.
Lisson Gallery’s East Hampton space will continue its focused format featuring both influential, historical artworks and debuting new bodies of work in an experimental, intimate setting. Following the Leon Polk Smith exhibition the gallery will offer presentations by Ceal Floyer, Laure Prouvost, Sean Scully and Allora & Calzadilla, among others. The gallery will be open to the public each Thursday through Saturday, from 11am to 6pm, Sundays from 12 – 5pm and Wednesdays by appointment.
Works on view
55 Main Street
Thursday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm