Born in Hertfordshire in 1931, Richard Smith studied at the
Royal College of Art, London from 1954-57. In 1959 Smith was
awarded the prestigious Harkness Fellowship which facilitated his
move to New York, where he has remained ever since. During this
time, Smith was able to observe form and colour featured in the
iconography and consumerism of the 1960s.
Smith challenged the structural properties of stretching canvas,
expanding the frames into three dimensional structures by building
extensions. Smith produced these works on a large scale, alluding
to the monumentality of the billboards that surround the landscape
of America. During the 1970s and 1980s the canvas was taken off the
usual wooden stretchers, with strings hung from the edges or tied
in knots; these works were coined the 'kite' pieces and were no
longer restricted to hanging rigid on the wall.
Although now painting on a more conventional canvas, Smith's
oeuvre remains as dynamic, colourful and expressionist to this
"Each canvas has a past and a future; even the first and the last
connect in an eternal return, if we think of their relationship as
that of the crescent moon to the full moon which inevitably
succeeds each waning crescent."
Barbara Rose, Richard Smith Seven Exhibitions 1961-75, Tate