Since the 1999 retrospective organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jeffrey Smart has consolidated his position as one of the most outstanding Australian painters of the 20th century. Now at the age of 90 it is possible to assess his achievement in this comprehensive monograph by Barry Pearce, which covers the artist’s oeuvre from the earliest works painted in Adelaide to the most recently completed paintings. Over five decades Jeffrey Smart has produced a body of work which reflects and comments on the life of our time in a way that would have pleased Baudelaire who urged artists to look about them for their subject matter in his essay ‘The painter of modern life’.
Disregarding frontiers between countries and even continents, Smart shows us how immediate communication has homogenised the world we live in; its impact on roads, cars, road signs, airports and architecture. No other painter has focused on this common denominator in such a way that once we have become familiar with Smart’s work we cannot help but ‘see’ Smart paintings everywhere. He has broken our visual habits of the past and has plunged us into the clinical reality of modern life, which surrounds us on all sides. What is amazing is that he has shown us that this is also beautiful by transforming it into highly sophisticated, carefully constructed paintings.
The artist’s magic transforms the particular into the universal which is the secret behind Smart’s finest paintings. His work is a lesson for us to understand the world we live in, and a legacy which will tell future generations what our world was like.
Barry Pearce’s perceptive text provides us with a penetrating insight into Smart’s world; he delves not only into the creativity of the artist and his method of work, but also relates it to the artist’s interesting life. Pearce establishes an immediate rapport with his subject and makes us feel that we too are privileged to know him, to see him relaxing at his home in Tuscany or find him in deep concentration working in the studio.
• First edition sold out
• New edition with more than 10 new colour plates of recent work.
• Other illustrations and photos added
• Detailed biographical notes of Jeffrey Smart
• Exhibition lists and a useful bibliography included.
More than 170 colour plates