Catalogue entry

Richard Smith b.1931

T00855 Vista 1963

Inscr. on reverse, ‘Richard Smith/“Vista” ’.
Canvas, 77 x 117¼ (195.6 x 297.8).
Purchased from Kasmin Ltd. (Mara Savic Bequest) 1966.
Exh. British Painting in the Sixties, Whitechapel Gallery, June 1963 (174); Kasmin Ltd., November 1963 (no catalogue number); Profile III, St¿dtische Kunstgalerie, Bochum, April–June 1964 (142); London: The New Scene, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February–March 1965 and tour of Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa to March 1966 (67, repr. in colour); Whitechapel Gallery, May 1966 (31, repr.).
Lit. Eighth reply in artist’s interview with Bryan Robertson in catalogue of retrospective exhibition, Whitechapel Gallery, May 1966.

Smith’s work in 1962 and 1963 was concerned particularly frequently and openly with (among other themes) the package or box image, and with setback effects where a particular image is repeated in sequence within the same work, giving an illusion of depth. Both devices are employed in ‘Vista’, depth illusion being enhanced by an irregular canvas area additional to the main rectangular canvas and attached along part of its top and left edges. In ‘Vista’ Smith takes the idea of three-dimensionality to about the farthest point he was to do without the painting surface itself becoming three-dimensional. The artist wrote (8 September 1967): This was the first painting with an extension, an extension of pretty modest dimensions. These extensions were introduced as a way of tailoring the canvas shape to the canvas image. The base canvas always remained rectangular and the extension tended to repeat a drawn shape within that (see also Fleetwood). These paintings led rapidly to the extensions in 3D (Giftwrap, Alpine) and then to a hybrid of the two in a painting like “Slices” 1964 (Harry Abrams Collection). The basic image is the front view of a box with the shadow of the box extending to the next depiction of the box and its shadow extending to the next and so on.

The paint quality was to do with an in focus out of focus feeling though not followed through too logically; the box furthest away is most in focus.’

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