Richard Smith



In Tate Britain
Richard Smith 1931–2016
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1520 x 1221 mm
frame: 1538 x 1232 x 40 mm
Purchased 1972

Online caption

Smith produced this painting one year after having completed his studies at the Royal College of Art, London. The scale of the work, emphatic handling of paint and use of bright colours are testament to the influence of large-scale American abstract expressionist painting, first seen in strength in England in a group exhibition at the Tate in 1956. Around the time of the making of Painting Smith was also developing a growing interest in the physical and mental properties of environments generated by the mass media.

Catalogue entry

Richard Smith b.1931

T01588 Painting 1958

Inscribed ‘R. Smith 59’(?) on top canvas turnover on reverse and ‘SMITH 59/PAINTING JAN59/125 GNS’ in centre of back of canvas.
Canvas,60 x 47¾(152.4 x 121.3).
Purchased from Mrs Doris Smith (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll:Mrs Doris Smith, mother of the artist.

The notes on T01588, T01807 and T10808 are based on a conversation with the artist (5 March 1974).Although ‘Painting1958’ is inscribed twice with the date1959Smith believes that the picture, because of its style and similarity to ‘Rainbow’ 1958 and ‘Somewhere Over’ 1958,was painted the same year, although finishing touches may have been added in January 1959.He told the compiler that he cannot remember ever exhibiting it despite the inscription‘125Gns’.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.


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