Skip to Content
Closed today, next open tomorrow. Closed today, next open tomorrow.

Desert Forms

A work made of oil on masonite.
© Estate of Hughie Lee-Smith/ARS (Artist Rights Society), New York

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on masonite.




Hughie Lee-Smith (American, 1915–1999)

About this artwork

Hughie Lee-Smith here conjured an unsettling scene: the stormy blues of the sky, the rocky terrain, and the unknowable relationship between the walking woman and the distant man. The artist often situated enigmatic people in bleak landscapes, and he aligned these morose visualizations with his experiences as an African American man: “Unconsciously it has a lot to do with a sense of alienation … and in all blacks there is an awareness of their isolation from the mainstream of society.” Anonymous and disconnected from one another, the figures face an austere existence—evocative, perhaps, of the human condition amid a turbulent modern world.


On View, Gallery 262


Arts of the Americas


Hughie Lee-Smith


Desert Forms


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on Masonite


45.7 × 60.1 cm (18 × 24 in.)

Credit Line

American Art Sales Proceeds Fund; through prior acquisitions of Charles S. Peterson Purchase Prize and Charles D. Ettinger funds, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Wacker Jr. Endowment Fund

Reference Number



© Estate of Hughie Lee-Smith/ARS (Artist Rights Society), New York

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions