Jack Smith (1928-2011) 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.
After being included in the Venice Biennale in 1956,. Smith won the first John Moores prize in 1957 and had a solo retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1959. His work has since 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. Public collections include 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.