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Estimate: $ 100,000 - $ 150,000
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 - 1999) Untitled (Youths on a Lakeshore).
Oil on masonite board, 1952. 610x762 mm; 24x30 inches. Incised signature and date, upper left.
Provenance: the artist, Detroit; Robert and Joanne Hudson Kanzler, New York and Florida; private collection, Florida (2006).
This magnificent lakeside scene is a significant example of Hughie Lee-Smith's painting from the early 1950s. This Detroit period was critical in the formation of Lee-Smith's ouevre - a body of work in which he found his own voice and gained national recognition. Lee-Smith earned his bachelors degree in fine art from Detroit's Wayne State University in 1953. That year, his painting The Piper won top prize at the Detroit Institute of Art and was purchased for the museum collection.
His experiences on the shores and beaches of Michigan and Ontario shaped this key stage of Lee-Smith's paintings. Unspecific and largely created from his imagination, Lee-Smith's scenes reflect the extistentialism of youth in the 1950s. Here three young men are isolated, two with their backs turned. As in many of these paintings, Lee-Smith focuses our gaze on a central young protagonist - often a quasi-self-portrait. The tranquil scene does not appear interrupted by a windblown white cloth or a passing tanker. Lee-Smith defines the space and mood with many of his signature elements: a rope, a coiled wire, separated poles, a distant shore line at the horizon and a beautiful but forbidding sky of cumulus clouds.