Richard Smith: Uptown/Downtown 1959-63

Richard Smith Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert

The British painter Richard Smith (1931-2016) might well be regarded as the artist who kickstarted the 1960s. From his debut New York show in 1961 at the Green Gallery, he pioneered a highly distinctive form of Pop Art with lush, textured paintings that evoke slick American ‘Madmen’ consumerism, while nodding to the gestural Abstract Expressionism of the preceding decade. Entitled ‘Uptown/Downtown’, this loan exhibition explores how Smith, an Englishman in New York, explored the visual languages of uptown glitz, while living a life of downtown bohemianism, in exuberant canvases that combine the different cultural currents of his adopted city. As the exhibition curator Marco Livingstone writes: ‘…these paintings are infused with the scent of luxury and with the aura of popular culture, commerce and the spectacle of modern life.’

Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert presents a long-overdue show of rare early works by the artist, the first such survey to take place in the UK. The exhibition features 18 paintings, including loans from the Arts Council of England Collection, Southampton City Art Gallery and private collectors including Peter and Chrissy Blake. Curated by scholar Marco Livingstone, who has written the introduction to the catalogue, this exhibition focuses on the groundbreaking paintings produced by Smith during his first two years in New York and immediately on his return to London. Livingstone notes that this work, much of it large in scale and painted in joyous, saturated colours, reflected the abundance and optimism of American society that the artist found so striking. As Livingstone writes: ‘The stroke of genius in these early works by Smith lay in his understanding that this language of painting, however attractive in itself, could be given even greater depth through connections with the visual stimuli that he found in the modern urban environment.’

Duration 01 November 2018 - 14 December 2018
Times Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm
Cost Free
Venue Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert
Address 38 Bury Street, London, SW1 6BB
Contact 4402078397600 / /