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Hassel Smith provided a West Coast counterpoint to Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, and was an influential teacher at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He first came to abstraction in the 1940s after seeing an exhibition of Clyfford Still’s “Color Fields”, and he worked with bold swathes of rich color for the rest of his career, only occasionally returning to the figure. He is best known for his experiments with calligraphic imagery and fragmented geometry, as well as for the way he incorporated his love of jazz onto the canvas. “To put it very briefly,” Smith once said, “as far as I'm concerned I'm bringing the painting into much closer relation with music, the dance with verse, and the various discursive art forms in which rhythmic sequences play a role."
American, 1915-2007, Sturgis, Michigan