In the painting, a solitary figure stands with his back facing the viewer, gazing outward onto the bleak, abandoned landscape.

Hughie Lee-Smith

American, 1915-1999

Contemplating My Future, 1954

Oil on masonite

24 x 36 inches

Signed and dated lower right

Contemplating My Future is an enigmatic work by Hughie Lee-Smith, set against the lakeshore of a dying city. In the painting, a solitary figure stands with his back facing the viewer, gazing outward onto the bleak, abandoned landscape. He casually leans against the post of a crumbling wooden building, with a broken, peeling sign post above. The sign retains the letters “Lee-Sm,” which may suggest the artist’s subtle reference to himself. Lee-Smith has juxtaposed the man with a two-story nineteenth century brick building, an empty street distancing the two. Perhaps once a genteel home, it now stands like a second figure in the painting, facing the lone man. Despite the ghostly nature of the scene, Lee-Smith has bathed the composition in a warm, afternoon light. Further subtleties include the meticulous rendering of texture in the weathered buildings, and the wiry ribbon draped over the sign and strewn across the street.

In the painting, a solitary figure stands with his back facing the viewer, gazing outward onto the bleak, abandoned landscape.