English printmaker and painter; Settled in New York
Richard Smith is an English printmaker and painter. In 1959 he travelled to New York to live there and teach for two years on a Harkness Fellowship, where he produced paintings combining the formal qualities of American abstract painters, which made references to American commercial culture. His work gradually became more minimal, often painted in just one colour with a second colour used only as an accent. In trying to find ways of transposing ideas, Smith began to question the two-dimensional properties of art itself and to find ways by which a painting could express the shape of reality as he saw it. He began to take the canvas off the stretcher, letting it hang loose, or tied with knots, to suggest sails or kites – objects which could change with new directions rather than being held rigid against a wall, and taking painting close to the realm of sculpture. These principles he carried into his graphic work by introducing cut, folded and stapled elements into his prints; some works were multi-leaved screen-printing, and others printed onto three-dimensional fabricated metal. By 1968 Smith’s ambition to produce paintings, which shared a common sensibility with media, such as film and photography, began to wane. He works with paint, metal, and screen-printing materials. His work has a Contemporary feel and structural quality.