The Easel

GALLERY ESSAY Richard Smith: The Incredible Lightness Of Being

Arriving in New York from London, Smith quickly became prominent as a Pop artist. But he never fully signed up. An art critic at the time noted that Smith had “colour and a kind of newness absolutely separate from Pop Art”. By 1970 he had developed his iconic “kite” paintings. Art historian Barbara Rose argues that, while anything but orthodox, these works nonetheless sit inside the traditions of painting. “[T]he kites are shaped paintings– but only in their own and not any generic sense. They are paintings that come out of a tradition of painting and push it in new directions. They remain fascinating because they … are neither this nor that, not entirely image nor entirely object. They are brilliantly resolved in terms of composition and color relationships, but not in terms of their status as things in the world.”

Richard Smith died in April just after the close of his latest New York show.  This essay is reproduced with the kind permission of Barbara Rose and Flowers Gallery London and New York.