Australian icon, Jeffrey Smart (1921 – 2013) was an expatriate painter who permanently settled in Italy in 1963. He was born and educated in Adelaide at the ‘South Australian School of Arts and Crafts’ where he trained under Rupert Bunny and Marie Tuck. Smart also went on to train at the ‘Academie Montmartre’ in Paris in 1949.
In Smart’s earlier years, he frequently travelled to Europe and moved from Adelaide to Sydney in 1951. He was employed as an art critic for the ‘Daily Telegraph’, an ABC Children’s Radio host, and a drawing teacher at ‘East Sydney Technical College’.
“I find it funny that perhaps in 100 years time, if people look at paintings done by the artists of this century, of our century, that the most ubiquitous things, like motor cars and television sets and telephones, don’t appear in any of the pictures. We should paint the things around us. Motor cars are very beautiful. I’m a great admirer of Giorgio Morandi; we all love Morandi, and he had all his props, his different bottles and his things. See, my props are petrol stations and trucks and it’s just the same thing. It’s a different range of things.” – Jeffrey Smart
Smart portrayed the modern city and its characteristics in an almost hyper-realistic form of painting. His work has also been referred to as surreal by critics. Smart conjectured that it is the modern world that is surreal, not his depictions of it. When Smart moved to Rome and later Tuscany, he gradually gained recognition for his paintings, receiving both critical acclaim and financial success.
Jeffrey Smart was regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists. His work was bought by private collectors and leading art establishments including the ‘Art Gallery of NSW’. He had numerous solo exhibitions around the world for example; ‘the Tate’, in London. He is currently represented in many public collections including the ‘Metropolitan Museum of Art’ in New York, and ‘Yale University Art Gallery’ in Connecticut.
At a ‘Deutscher and Hackett’ Auction in May 2017, Jeffrey Smart’s “Kapunda Church” was sold for $43,920 and the “Torrens Weir” for $19,520. In the same sale, “Richmond Park II” was sold for a record price of $368,181.
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