Tiptoe Down to Art

Tiptoe Down to Art
Hassel Smith (American, 1915-2007)
Oil on canvas 
70 x 98-1/2 in. (177.8 x 250.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mrs. Sadye J. Moss 
Accession Number:
© The Estate of Hassel Smith 
On View

Painted in 1950, while Smith was teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), Tiptoe Down to Art refers to when he heard a teacher instruct her students to tiptoe downstairs to the school’s art room. While at the CSFA, Smith taught alongside such notable artists as Clyfford Still, Ansel Adams and Richard Diebenkorn. Along with visiting faculty Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, the Michigan-born Smith was stimulated into exploring more abstract imagery, while often approaching his work with a great sense of humor.

I wish to feel free to appreciate life without relating to it, either its beauties or its ugliness, in any necessary way to my painting. My paintings are intended to be additions to rather than reflections of or upon life.


Mrs. Sadye J. Moss, Los Angeles, gift 1966 to;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, 1966-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, 1975.

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