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Washburn Gallery – 50 years of Separation: 1940s – 1990s

April 7th – through June, 2011

Leon Polk Smith 50 Years of Separation: 1940s and 1990s investigated the interlationship between Smith’s geometric abstract paintings of the 1940s and the artist’s final period of reductive geometric paintings in the 1990s, including five paintings from each decade. In the Washburn’s Gallery’s brochure for this informatively focused survey, the Irish-born, New York artist and writer Brian O’Doherty wrote: ”…Smith set his own table.

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A feet-on-the-ground realism was, I suspect, part of his nature. This kept him out of sync with the Mondrian idealists and may have led to some isolation. He came from a different culture – Oklahoma (he was born the year before it became a state) and a Native-American background. He brought his nature and culture to New York. In 1989 he wrote, in a splendid poetic conceit, “New York City revealed its physical self to me through the mountains and canyons of the Southwest. There were the ups and downs – the high peaks, the inbetweens, or the canyons, and topped with the great dome. I felt the city to be a perfect equation for a great abstraction…”

KUBUS in Situation Kunst (für Max Imdahl) – Raumformen /Spaceforms

May 5th – September 4th, 2011

From May 5th until September 4th, the KUBUS in Situation Kunst (für Max Imdahl) is showing works by the American artist Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996). Smith, with Indian roots, grew up on a farm in the territory of Chickasaw- and Choctaw- Indians, nowadays known as Oklahoma and spent a long period in New York afterwards.

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He’s known as the initiator of the so-called Hard-Edge-Paintings, where surfaces made of unmixed, pure colours with its sharp contours clash. In the USA, Smiths’ works are found in a number of well-known and highly anticipated museum collections nationwide; however in Europe few exhibitions have taken place so far. The exhibition in Bochum is showing 22 works, created between 1953 and 1994, including paintings, so-called Torn Paper Drawings and graphics, which point out work-based progressions leading to a clear art that concentrates on colour and form, as well as comprehensive tendencies and relations in the history of paintings.