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Richard Smith: Reunion

‘Reunion’, an exhibition of painter and printmaker Richard Smith (b.1931) displaying over 40 works from throughout the artist’s career. 

Smith was born and grew up in Letchworth Garden City and the Broadway Gallery’s inaugural exhibition will celebrate the role that Letchworth had in inspiring one of the founders of Pop art. Smith grew up immersed in the city’s Arts and Crafts environment. The Garden City model originated in tandem with the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early twentieth century and Letchworth was the first Garden City to be built in 1903.  

‘Reunion’ will span six decades of Smith’s artistic practice, including drawings, paintings, collages and prints alongside a series of archival books, photographs and interviews. A highlight of the exhibition will be a series of 30 untitled works on paper from 1997 that is rarely shown in its entirety. Smith was a predecessor to well known Pop artists Patrick Caulfield and David Hockney and his work demonstrates a preoccupation with colour, texture and perspective that is indicative of the early Pop movement. From the 1960s his work has been characterised by its dimensionality, pushing the limits of the canvas as a flat material hung against the wall. Drawing inspiration from the immensity of billboard posters in the United States, where Smith lived and worked since 1959, his works expand the perspective of the canvas itself through the use of dynamic colours and forms. 

Laura Dennis, Visual Arts Curator of Broadway Gallery, said: “Visitors to the exhibition will discover the variety of techniques and media Richard Smith has used in his continued exploration of form and colour. Each drawing, painting and print reveals the artistic concerns that have motivated Smith for more than five decades. We are delighted to open the new Broadway Gallery with an exhibition that celebrates Letchworth’s connection to this remarkable artist.” 

Richard Smith, CBE (27 October 1931 – 15 April 2016) was an English painter and printmaker. He attended art school in Luton and St Albans before attending the Royal College of Art from 1954 to 1957, where he was a precursor of the generation of Pop artists that included David Hockney, Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield. His work is held in the collections of Tate, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the collection of David Bowie. Richard Smith was a regular visitor to Andy Warhol’s Factory during the 1980s and his close friends included John Lennon, Joe Tilson and John Hoyland. Smith has had solo exhibitions at: Green Gallery (1961, New York), Whitechapel Gallery (1966, London), Modern Art Oxford (1972, Oxford), Hayward Gallery (1973, London), Tate Gallery (retrospective, 1975, London), and is now represented by Flowers Gallery. He represented Britain at the 35th Venice Biennale in 1970.