LEON POLK SMITH (1906 - 1996)

Leon Polk Smith, Oh Happy Day, 1972
Leon Polk Smith, Constellation Black-White, 1975

Raumformen / Spaceforms

„My canvases are something like a magnetic field; and they must be full of life”

Leon Polk Smith, 1965

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. 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.

Smiths’ primary interest as an artist focuses on the pictorial exploration of form and space by attaching and adjoining strictly contoured, monochrome surfaces. In dividing image and colour surface by curved contour lines, Smith discovers a new method of making space accessible, - a dynamic image space, which he repeatedly describes as a “curved space”.

Even though he has never been part of any artistic movement and his entire oeuvre can be labelled as autonomic, we can still discover direct and indirect influences and precursors. Due to this, the exhibition also displays a single work by Hans Arp (1886-1966), Josef Albers (1888-1976) und Wladyslaw Strzeminski (1893-1952).

Additionally, the exhibition on the ground floor in the KUBUS is the kick-off for the major exhibition “Aufbruch. Malerei und realer Raum” starting September 2011. This extensive theme-based exhibition will showcase a selection of artists who, in varied ways, have searched for a binding relation between image space and real(istic) space throughout their oeuvres. Among those are Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Frank Stella, Mary Heilmann and of course, Leon Polk Smith.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue is available at the museum shop (48 p., 28 ill., including an article by Silke von Berswordt-Wallrabe) for 9,95 Euros.

Public Guided Tours

Sunday, 15 May 2011, 4 pm
Sunday, 5 June 2011, 4 pm
Sunday, 7 August 2011, 4 pm
Sunday, 21 August 2011, 2pm
Sunday, 4 September 2011, 4pm

Lecture: Dr. Claus Volkenandt: "The challenge of the curve. Imdahl, Mondrian and Leon Polk Smith"
on Sunday, 21. August at 3pm

Entry free to Public Guided Tour:
3 Euros per person plus the cost of an exhibition ticket (2 Euro, discounted admission: 1 Euro)

Individual group tours must be booked separately and in advance.