Josh Smith: Emo Jungle

a Celebration

Text by Bob Nickas

The most comprehensive overview of artist Josh Smith’s radical technicolor paintings.

Josh Smith: Emo Jungle looks at the artist’s vigorous repetition of particular motifs, illuminating his approach to painting as an exploratory medium for image production. Published on the occasion of Smith’s critically acclaimed first exhibition at David Zwirner, this catalogue features a new body of work that marks an important evolution for the artist. In these paintings, Smith sets the stage for a new mode of self-reflective commentary on image making, acknowledging that “the meaning perhaps arises in the making.”

A new essay by Bob Nickas treats the Reaper, Turtle, and Devil figures from Emo Jungle as ciphers through which to understand Smith’s work. Nickas demonstrates how these new paintings restage and personalize the artist’s more abstract earlier works and illuminates the ways in which repetition functions within Smith’s practice. With more than one hundred illustrations, this book serves as the ideal introduction to Smith’s disruptive oeuvre.


Publisher: David Zwirner Books

Artists: Josh Smith

Contributors: Bob Nickas

Publication Date: September 2020

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 8 1/2 × 10 1/2 in | 21.6 × 26.7 cm

Pages: 96

Reproductions: 184 color

ISBN: 9781644230398

Retail: $45 | £35 | €40

Status: Available

Josh Smith

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.

All Josh Smith books

Bob Nickas

Bob Nickas, a writer and curator based in New York, has organized more than 120 exhibitions since 1984. His books include Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting (2014) and four collections of his writings and interviews: Live Free or Die (2000), Theft Is Vision (2007), The Dept. of Corrections (2016), and Komplaint Dept. (2018). Most recently, he has contributed essays to Vija Celmins (2018), Brand New: Art & Commodity in the 1980s (2018), Robert Grosvenor (2020), and Josh Smith: Emo Jungle (David Zwirner Books, 2020).