Josh Smith is a New York-based painter who also works with collage, sculpture, printmaking, and books. He first became known in the early 2000s for a series of canvases depicting his own name, a motif that allowed him to experiment freely with abstraction and figuration and the expressive possibilities of painting. His work has since given way to monochromes, gestural abstractions, and varied imagery, including leaves, fish, skeletons, sunsets, and palm trees that the artist has explored in series. Smith’s work engages in a celebratory and prolific process of experimentation and refinement—upending the conventions of painting while simultaneously commanding a deep awareness of its history.
Smith was born in 1976 in Okinawa, Japan. Smith’s father was in the U.S. Army, and his family moved frequently, eventually settling in East Tennessee, where the artist mostly grew up. His work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including at the Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2016); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome (2015); the Zabludowicz Collection, London (2013); The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut (2011); Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva (2009); De Hallen Haarlem, Haarlem, The Netherlands (2009-2010); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok), Vienna (2008); and SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2004).
Smith’s work has also been included in important group exhibitions such as Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, which opened at the Museum Brandhorst, Munich, and subsequently traveled to the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok), Vienna (2015-2016); The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014-2015); The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012); ILLUMInations, the central exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Le Printemps de Septembre festival in Toulouse, France (2011); and The Generational: Younger Than Jesus at the New Museum, New York (2009). In 2018, Smith’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Massimo De Carlo, London, and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York.
Smith’s work is held in numerous international public collections including The Broad, Los Angeles; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok), Vienna; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Smith has lived and worked in New York since 1998. The artist joined David Zwirner in 2017.