Willard Grayson Smythe

American, 1906 - 1995


One of Chicago’s most talented and progressive artists of the 30s, 40s and 50s, Smythe exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago fourteen times between 1934 and 1949, and again in 1955. His work was included in the Art Institute’s “Abstract and Surrealist Art” exhibition of 1947, which is considered to be among the most important surveys of Modern Art to take place in the United States during the 1940s. Smythe was also a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1928 to 1960 and was the first to teach abstract painting there.

Smythe counted two of the city’s most celebrated artists -- John Storrs and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy –- as his friends and supporters. It is interesting to note that Smythe declined an invitation by Moholy-Nagy to join the faculty of the Institute of Design, instead preferring to remain at the Art Institute and to preserve the independence of his studio practice.

One of Chicago’s most talented and progressive artists of the 30s, 40s and 50s, Smythe exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago fourteen times between 1934 and 1949, and again in 1955. His work was included in the Art Institute’s “Abstract and Surrealist Art” exhibition of 1947, which is considered to be among the most important surveys of Modern Art to take place in the United States during the 1940s. Smythe was also a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1928 to 1960 and was the first to teach abstract painting there.

Smythe counted two of the city’s most celebrated artists -- John Storrs and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy –- as his friends and supporters. It is interesting to note that Smythe declined an invitation by Moholy-Nagy to join the faculty of the Institute of Design, instead preferring to remain at the Art Institute and to preserve the independence of his studio practice.

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