b. 1976, United States

Josh Smith Biography

Josh Smith is an Okinawa-born American contemporary artist based in New York. While known for his various series of abstract and semi-abstract paintings, Smith's diverse practice spans a range of mediums and styles as he reflects and counters cultural norms and contemporary art tastes.

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Raised in East Tennessee, Josh Smith studied at Miami University in Ohio between 1994 and 1996. In 1996 he transferred to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, from which he graduated with a BFA in 1998. While he focused on printmaking during his studies, he quickly became more prominent for his paintings.

In the early 2000s, Josh Smith created a series of collages that combined photocopies and drawings with found documents, utilising their flat forms and colours as a substitute for paint. This approach of layering visual languages into abstraction is visible in contemporaneous abstract paintings by the artist that also reacted to surreal and expressionistic painting modes.

Josh Smith's untitled series of paintings from the 2000s, for which he first became known, incorporated the letters of his name. These autograph-like works interrogated notions of authorship and the function of painting. The name motif was also a basis from which the artist found the freedom to experiment with abstraction and figuration.

The various series that have followed Josh Smith's initial success have taken different paths, through which he has used his work as a means to think about life, art, and the creative process. While seeming spontaneous, some of his works have taken years, emerging only at the end of a complex process both methodical and psychological.

Borrowing from and critiquing the language of modern painting, Josh Smith has painted everything between monochrome abstractions and colourful figurative paintings. The subjects of his figurative series have included spiders, watermelons, devils, road signs, turtles, palm trees, fish, and skeletons. Another significant motif for Smith is the Grim Reaper, which featured 11 times in his 2017 solo exhibition at STANDARD (OSLO).

Alongside painting, Smith creates sculptures, ceramics, drawings, books, and prints. No matter the medium, the artist's work embodies the same spirit of experimentation. Since the late 1990s he has exhibited across the United States and Europe, and his work can be found in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Josh Smith Solo Exhibitions include:

Josh Smith, Bonner Kunstverein, Germany (2016); Josh Smith, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2015), The American Dream, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut (2011); Hidden Darts, Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation, Vienna (2008); Chinese Paintings, M Shanghai Bistro, New York (2003).

Josh Smith Group Exhibitions include:

Schöne Sentimenten, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium (2019); Zeitgeist, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Geneva (2017); Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2015); The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); Uncertain States of America: American Art in the 3rd Millennium, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2005).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Josh Smith
featured artworks

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Brain Effect by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting
Josh Smith Brain Effect, 2024 Oil on linen
152.5 x 122 x 2.5 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Request Price & Availability
Little Friend by Josh Smith contemporary artwork sculpture
Josh Smith Little Friend, 2023 Patinated bronze
124.5 x 129.5 x 57.1 cm
David Zwirner Request Price & Availability
Healing Power by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Josh Smith Healing Power, 2022 Oil on poly cotton
182.9 x 152.4 cm
David Zwirner
Untitled by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting
Josh Smith Untitled, 2019 Oil on canvas
76 x 61 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Request Price & Availability
Turtle by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting, print
Josh Smith Turtle, 2019 Monotype on Plike paper
91.4 x 68.6 cm
David Zwirner Request Price & Availability
Untitled by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting, print
Josh Smith Untitled, 2020 Monotype on Plike paper
88.9 x 67 cm
Sold
Xavier Hufkens
Untitled by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting
Josh Smith Untitled, 2011 Oil on canvas
61 x 45.7 cm
The Modern Institute Request Price & Availability
Untitled by Josh Smith contemporary artwork painting
Josh Smith Untitled, 2014 Rabbit skin glue, calcium carbonate, white pigment, ink, watercolour, graphite, grease pencil, and paint pen on panel
81.3 x 66 x 6.3 cm
Xavier Hufkens Request Price & Availability
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Josh Smith
current & recent
exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in New York: 19th Street, United States
David Zwirner Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris
Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
Galerie Eva Presenhuber New York, Seoul, Zurich, Vienna
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