Born Adelaide, Australia 1921, arrived Italy 1964


Jeffrey Smart’s paintings of the city environment – its buildings, bridges, trucks and road signs – reflect his early interest in architecture. Realist in style but surrealist in temperament, his works are as much a celebration of the urban landscape as they are symbolic of an alienated, and isolated humanity.

Smart studied at the South Australian School of Art (1937–42), and in Paris at La Grande Chaumière and Académie Montmartre under Fernand Léger (1949).

Most remarkable is Smart’s compositional skill, his eye for pattern, use of clear colour and his ability to create dramatic theatre from mundane subjects. Light open spaces are offset with dark and shadow, and a foreboding sky often looms above, reminiscent of the sensibility in the early images of Giorgio de Chirico.

Since the mid-1960s, Smart has spent most of his time in Italy, although he continues his relationship with Australia through regular visits and exhibitions. In 1999 the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a major retrospective of his work.

His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most state galleries, Ballarat and Newcastle regional galleries, the Victorian Arts Centre, several universities and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.