Geometry in Motion: Leon Polk Smith Works on Paper

October 7 - December 31, 2017

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute proudly presents Geometry in Motion: Leon Polk Smith Works on Paper, a first-ever museum exhibition of drawings and collages by Smith (1906-96), a pioneer of hard-edge, geometric abstraction.

Born in Indian Territory a year before Oklahoma entered the Union, Smith grew up in a large farming family. He attended college in Ada and discovered the art department shortly before graduation. In the late 1930s, while he worked as a teacher, Smith attended a summer program to study art and art education at Columbia Teachers College, New York City. There he was introduced to the work of European Modernist artists and was particularly influenced by the geometric, spiritual compositions of Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). By the mid-1950s, Smith had developed his mature style characterized by colorful and bold forms that reflect both the western landscape of his youth and modernist precepts. It is a body of work that consistently evinces energized movement and joie de vivre.

Geometry in Motion is a retrospective that examines characteristic drawings and collages from the 1940s, as Smith experimented with a variety of sources, through the 1990s, as a lion in winter who plied his craft through the end of his life. A fully illustrated catalog with essays by Mary E. Murray, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, MWPAI, and Jonathan D. Katz, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, University at Buffalo, accompanies the exhibition.

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New York State Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.