Homage to Victory Boogie Woogie #1


Leon Polk Smith ( American, 1906 - 1996 )

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General Description

Born in Indian Territory (near present day Chickasha) Oklahoma, Leon Polk Smith was trained in New York and France. In the 1930s, he came to know the work of European modernists Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, and, most notably, Piet Mondrian. He introduced geometric abstraction and a nonobjective vocabulary into his own paintings. Smith was not particularly interested in the theories of Mondrian, but he responded to the visual impact of his grid and the sense of extension beyond the edge of the canvas. In fact, Smith never met Mondrian; nonetheless, in 1946 he painted several works in tribute to him, beginning with the Dutch artist's unfinished opus Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-44, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag). Unlike Mondrian, Smith's own work is not confined by any strict rules concerning color and line. Rather the floating color planes in Homage to Victory Boogie Woogie #1 imply a response to the urban landscape, a dizzying bird's-eye view, perhaps, from the height of a skyscraper.

Adapted from

Bonnie Pitman, ed., Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 282.

Fun Facts

  • Smith wrote in 1979 about his connection to NYC: "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 in-betweens, or the canyons, and topped with the great dome. ...I felt the city to be a perfect equation for a great abstraction."

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