Jack Smith


Jack Smith (1928 - 2011)

British painter (and occasional sculptor), born in Sheffield. He studied at Sheffield College of Art, 1944–6, and then (after doing National Service) in London at St Martin's School of Art, 1948–50, and the Royal College of Art, 1950–53. In the mid-1950s he was a leading figure of the Kitchen Sink School. A typical work of this period is Mother Bathing Child (1953, Tate), which does in fact feature a kitchen sink. It is set in a crowded house that Smith and his family at this time shared with another Kitchen Sink painter, Derrick Greaves, and the sculptor George Fullard. Apart from interiors with figures such as this, he also painted still-lifes and seascapes. Even at this time he attached as much importance to formal qualities as to the nature of the subject-matter. He was later to comment: ‘This had nothing to do with social comment. If I had lived in a palace I would have painted the chandeliers.’ In the 1960s his work became completely abstract. ‘The closer the painting is to a diagram or graph, the nearer it is to my intentions. I like every work to establish a fact in the most precise, economical way’, he wrote in 1963. Typically his abstracts feature sharply defined shapes arranged against a plain ground in a way that suggests musical analogies—he wrote of ‘The sound of the subject, its noise or its silence, its intervals and its activities’. Smith won first prize at the first John Moores Liverpool Exhibition in 1957 and his work has been widely exhibited in Britain and abroad.


Text Source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art