Richard Smith b.1931
T01808 Double Blue Drawing 1973
Inscribed ‘R Smith 73’ on mount centrally below lower edge of drawing.
Oil wash, oil pastel, graphite, nylon and cotton strings on paper, 50½ x 27(128.3 x 68.6).
Purchased from Garage Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Exh: Garage Art, November 1973 (unnumbered).
The drawing comprises two sheets of paper, each 27 x 27 in. placed together to form a vertical banner with the lower sheet overlapping the upper by 3 in. Across the surface of the drawing blue nylon and red cotton strings are tied in a criss-cross pattern not only attaching the two sheets together but also both sheets to the mounting board. A nylon string hangs down from each of the four corners of the drawing. Before the two sheets were juxtaposed Smith applied a dark blue oil wash to each separately and 1½ in. in from the edges of the paper made a square grid of 36 squares with oil crayon. The artist then placed the two sheets together and overlaid the oil wash with crayon and graphite marks forming a dense gleaming texture. Subsequently the strings were tied together.
This work is one of a series of drawings, consistnig of two sheets united by a pattern of string, which Smith first began in 1973. However in the other drawings the string across the paper forms an H-shape. The idea of making larger drawings by juxtaposing two sheets came from the artist’s practise of combining several canvases together as the structure of one painting. In the case of ‘Double Blue Drawing’ the appearance of the drawing and the arrangement of the strings was suggested by his painting ‘Sloop’ 1971 (private coll. USA). This work comprised two canvases painted grey, placed next to each other (one above the other) across which stretched a criss-cross pattern of two different coloured strings. The canvas was supported at the back on a grid of aluminium supports and these made an impression of a grid through to the front surface of the canvas.
The artist said that although the work has to be mounted, framed and glazed in order to protect the paper, he would like ideally to display the drawing by hanging it from the strings at the upper two corners. In this way it would seem like a banner. Smith agreed that as such it would resemble Japanese festive religious banners. He said that he was interested in Japanese popular art and in how the Japanese would use simply sheets of richly textured papers as banners.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.