Jack Smith
Jack Smith, Dialogue. Zigzag 2, 2006, Oil on canvas

Jack Smith

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Biography

JACK SMITH (1928-2011)

Jack Smith had one of the most fascinating careers in the history of modern British art. He was a central figure in British painting from the early 1950s when he was renowned for his powerful realist works. Along with John Bratby, Edward Middleditch and Derrick Greaves, Smith was labelled a key member of the so-called 'Kitchen Sink' school, a label applied by the critic David Sylvester to suggest a unified group of campaigning Social Realists. However, Smith was never comfortable with the tag. His core concerns were always aesthetic - to do with light, form and pattern - rather than political, and by the late 50s his work moved towards the pure abstraction for which his career has subsequently been celebrated. Many of the paintings had musical titles and used hieroglyphics and script-like forms which implied, but at the same time denied a specific semiotic reading.

Jack Smith was born in Sheffield in 1928 and attended Sheffield College of Art and St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 1956 Smith was included in the Venice Biennale and he was given his first solo retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1959. His work has also been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Museo Municipal, Madrid, and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. It is also held in a number of public and private collections, including the Arts Council England; the National Gallery, Berlin; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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