Leon Polk Smith (American, Chickasha, Oklahoma 1906–1996 New York, New York)
18 x 18 in. (45.7 x 45.7 cm)
Gift of Leon Polk Smith Foundation, 2011
Not on view
Polk Smith arrived in New York from his native Oklahoma in 1936 and, thanks to an early encounter with the work of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), began to develop his own distinctive style of geometric abstraction. Between 1956 and 1964 he produced a group of uncharacteristically gestural drawings, consisting simply of ripped and scraped sheets of coated paper. By tearing the black sheet in one continuous, irregular line, and revealing the white, uncoated layer underneath, Polk Smith created a dramatic image—like a bolt of lightning in a dark field—with one decisive stroke.
The artist, New York (1957– d.1996); Leon Polk Smith Foundation, New York (1996–2011; their gift to MMA)
New York. Washburn Gallery. "Leon Polk Smith, Torn Paper Drawings: 1956-1964," January 10–March 21, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Trails: Selected Works from the Collection, 1934–2001," July 19–November 27, 2011, no catalogue.