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Helen Smagorinsky

Ski Slope, acrylic on canvas, 12"x16"

Viewing the paintings of Helen Smagorinsky, we readily comprehend the difference between Naive or Primitive Art - the productions of those lacking refined skills in creating illusion - and American Folk Art, which is a tradition set in opposition to illusionistic realism. Certainly both appeal in their honesty of expression and directness of meaning. Unlike Naive Art, though, Smagorinsky's art is the studied rendering of form into abstract notation: a reduction to the essence of things.

It eschews chiaroscuro, the modeling of forms in space, because this would imply the unseen, a dimension to which the viewer is not privy. By rendering everything perfectly in two dimensions, the artists conveys that there is nothing unsaid or unknown. All meaning is apparent.

Holloween on the Mountain, acrylic on board, 16"x20"
The flat, stylized image, like the religious icon of the Middle Ages, also conveys an element of universality. And, as several modern scholars have noted, the Folk tradition derives its unique power from the delight we feel in seeing the particular in light of the universal.

Helen Smagorinsky is a self-taught painter who has achieved national recognition with work included in several books and used in Ken Burns'‚ series "Baseball" on PBS television. Her work is prized in many public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Institute, the New York Historical Association, the Library of Congress, and the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Her paintings have been included in exhibitions at the Museum of American Folk Art and the White House.

Helen Smagorinsky, An American Tradition
Mermaid Fantasy: Red Sky in the Morning…, acrylic on canvas

Helen Smagorinsky, An American Tradition
An American Tradition, acrylic on canvas

Rainy Day

Silver Stadium
acrylic on board, 18"x18"

Seneca Park Zoo
acrylic on board, 18"x18"


prices available on request


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