Catalogue entry

Jack Smith 1928-2011

T00754 Figure in a Room I 1959

Inscr. ‘Jack Smith 59’ on back of canvas.
Canvas (double), 60 x 60 (152.5 x 152.5). Presented by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Levy through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1965.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Levy at the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1959.
Exh: Whitechapel Art Gallery, May–June 1959 (65).

Mark Roskill wrote in the Biographical note for the Catalogue of the Whitechapel Gallery Exhibition, 1959, p. 5, that in 1957–9 the artist was ‘preoccupied with the problem involved in giving form to the pictorial expression of light; the expressionist concern with the identity of objects gives place to a complete absorption in this effort to make forms lose their functional identity in order to free the movement of the engulfing presence of light. The realization that light is generally only seen in terms of defining objects is followed by an attempt to reverse the process and depict light through the forms of intervening objects’. The artist added (letter, 11 September 1965) that this picture was not related to the seventeen drawings entitled ‘Figures in a Room’, exhibited at the Matthiesen Gallery, October–November 1960, as these were made later in 1959–60. ‘Figure in a Room II’ was No. 66 in the Whitechapel Exhibition, 1959.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1965–1966, London 1967.