Catalogue entry

T03813 Activities, Major and Minor 1972

Oil on plywood 48 1/8 × 48 (1222 × 1219)
Inscribed on reverse ‘JACK SMITH 1972’ and ‘ACTIVITIES MAJOR + MINOR’
Purchased from the artist through Fischer Fine Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

The title of the painting ‘refers to the forms used and has musical connotations’ (letter from the artist, 22 February 1986). The artist is concerned with music not only in representing the notational sounds, but also the silences and pauses that occur; hence the cool lime green background which creates an atmosphere of calm against which these ‘sound boxes’ are superimposed. The ‘Activity’ is provided by the strong lively colours and also by the marks, which ‘fall’ diagonally across the work. Some of the forms appear to move rapidly, others move more slowly and leave a trail, and one (top left) stops altogether, creating a shadow.

The artist comments that the images for this painting have many sources ‘very often evolving from other paintings ... all forms need to be continually remade’ (ibid.). The painting is similar to ‘Activities: 16 Major 7 Minor’ 1972 (repr. Jack Smith, Paintings and Drawings 1949–1976, Sunderland Arts Centre, 1977, p.86, private collection) but does not belong to a particular series. The artist did not make any preliminary drawings or studies, and the work was painted ‘intuitively’.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986