Selected works by Josh Smith

Josh Smith
Untitled

2005

Collage on Board (Paper, Posters, Paint)

152.4 x 121.9 cm

In Untitled, Smith collages together newspapers, drawings, and posters to create a readymade abstraction. Smith is best known for his paintings in which he uses the letters of his own name in various configurations as a subject matter. Through Untitled’s process of assemblage, his stockpiled typefaces are used with similar effect. Loosing their function as information, words, scribbles, and symbols merge as a cacophony of prefab mark-making. In presenting a barrage of appropriated expression, Smith questions the hierarchical structures by which meaning is created.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2005

Collage on Board (Paper, Posters, Paint)

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Josh Smith’s works explore ideas of authorship and originality. In Untitled, Smith interrupts his collaged backdrop of photocopies and printed matter with hand-painted elements, both elevating the aura of mechanized copy and demoting the autonomy of the artist’s gesture. Smith’s practice is highly idiosyncratic: generating a prolific output of work, his processes and aesthetic engage with repetition as a philosophical concept. Drawing reference to Andy Warhol’s mass production, Hanne Darboven’s obsessive archives, and Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, Smith approaches replication, aggregation, and appropriation as an artistic sublime.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2005

Collage on Board (Paper, Posters, Paint)

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Josh Smith’s Untitled uses assemblage as a means to engage with painting. Layering found papers and photocopied drawings, Smith pastiches together a composition reminiscent of the Cubists’ fractured planes. Wittily subverting Picasso and Braque’s innovation of collage as a tool to confront and disrupt the illusionary quality of the painted surface, Smith uses the technique as a paint substitute. Shape, colour, texture, and form are delineated by planar surfaces, each garnered from mass produced sources. In Smith’s abstraction he removes idea of personal expression, replacing painting’s psychological depth with a reprographic generic.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2005

Collage on Board (Paper, Posters, Paint)

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Endlessly replicated both by hand and by mechanised copy, the vacant and generic quality of Josh Smith’s work gains momentum as a collection of empty signifiers. Made from recycled and plebian materials, and painted with an impoverished aesthetic, Smith frames artistic legacy with an air of inadequacy and humility. In Untitled, Smith pastes green and black posters and photocopies together as an abstracted colour-field. Complemented in places by haphazard dabs of paint, the textures of the printed matter are juxtaposed against evidence of the artist’s hand, creating a tension between facsimile and innovation.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2006

Oil on canvas

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Using the letters of his own name as a motif template, Josh Smith’s paintings eschew subject matter for a barrage of ironic and shameless autographs. Through this unorthodox approach, Smith deprives his canvases of both representational and abstract tradition to directly confront the function of painting itself. Working on stretched fabric or board often collaged with photocopies and posters, Smith questions concepts of authenticity, critical hierarchy, and the mythology of the artist.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2006

Oil on canvas

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Addressing painting through a variety of historical references – from Expressionism to Pop art – Josh Smith subverts the aura of the object through his casual aesthetics. In Untitled, Smith engages with materiality and formalism as a means to supersede visual expectation, infusing his canvas with a sense of experimentation and play. Combining the spontaneous brushwork of his abstracted signature with imprints of his own hand, Smith underscores the authenticity of artistic gesture. Bringing to mind the self-mythologising work of Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, his canvases don’t strive to appeal visually, but rather to suggest new ways in which the role of the artist can function and painting can have contemporary meaning.

Josh Smith
Untitled

2007

Oil on canvas

152.4 x 121.9 cm
Josh Smith
Untitled

2007

Oil on canvas

152.4 x 121.9 cm
Josh Smith
Untitled

2007

Oil on canvas

152.4 x 121.9 cm

Articles

JOSH SMITH - THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Roberta Smith

The conflicting notices of the artist as protean creator and Wadholian machine meet in the art of Joshua Smith, who works by hand in rote-like, almost obsessive ways and likes to highlight the conventions of the gallery setting. His concurrent second and third New York gallery shows consist of environments that are at once offhand and oceanic.
The most notable aspect of "Make It Plain", Mr Smith's how of "Mirror" paintings at Reena Spaulings, is the sea of wood bar stools filling the tiny space, creating a porous, nip-level plane that one must wade through. The stools are also artworks, bestowed with passing glances of brushwork - an eye there, a flurry of dots or calligraphic squiggles there.
They send up solitary (seated) contemplation and hold up several paintings: chunky rectangles in which colourful motifs, veering among Op, Minimalism and Pattern and Decoration, have been painted over with slabs of subtle, Brice Mardenesque greys. Except at the edges : here broad borders of colour and nonchalant brushwork remain as evidence of effort and serve as frames. A batch of smaller canvases, reminiscent of Joan Mitchell, were cooked up by being used as palettes to make other paintings.
In "Faces", a weeklong show at Taxter & Spengemann, Mr Smith turns to drawing with his usual automatist abandon. over the course of 800 5-by-8-inch file cards, he depicts the mirrors' most frequent motif - the human face - in a bristling Expressionist profession of bulging features and frazzled hair. Some are warm-ups; many are terrific. Unframed, they paper the walls and are also featured in the show's announcements, which, strewn about the floor, exaggerate the gallery's promotional function. These are bigger than the drawings, which might almost be handmade announcements.

Source: reenaspaulings.com


ARTFORUM - CRITICS' PICKS - JOSH SMITH
By Emily Speers Mears

For years, Josh Smith has been making abstract paints on which he emblazons his own name, and while this conceit may seem conceited, the effect is the opposite. Rather than coming across as aggressive self-advertisements, his canvases are relaxed to the point of messiness. In the best work here - New Swamp Thing, 2004 - his name is partially obscured by a patch of red checkers that seems to grow out of the bottom-left corner of the canvas; elsewhere, the calligraphic curves of his lettering appear to be on the verge of breaking down into scribbles.

His palette is nicely murky, as if he'd mixed globs of mud into his purples and greens, yet never mushy. Installed in the undecorated interior of Reena Spaulings Fine Art (a former dress shop), the paintings are seamlessly contextualized, hung on and behind clothes racks, and along one wall that is still its original salmon pink.

Posters for the show lie scattered on the floor, and a black leather couch (the best seat from which to view the series of fantastic performances that have been taking place here since the gallery's January inauguration) cuts across the middle of the room. The intentionally casual presentation lends conceptual gravitas to work that is already striking for its merry disregard of the conventions of gallery painting.

Source: reenaspaulings.com