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Richard Smith

Born 1931, Letchworth, Hertfordshire.Died 2016 in New York,

Richard Smith, painter and printmaker, was one of the most innovative and influential British artists of his generation who brought together aspects of the two most prominent developments in contemporary art at the time: abstract expressionism and Pop Art.

He trained initially at Luton School of Art (1948-50) and St Albans School of Art (1952-54) before going to the Royal College of Art (1954 -57). In 1959 he was awarded the Harkness Fellowship which took him to America where he stayed for several years, painting and teaching.

In the 1970s he brought a third dimension into painting by using extended canvases with box-like sections protruding into the gallery space; he later went on to make works which dispensed with canvas stretchers altogether, assembling separate pieces of painted canvas of various shapes stapled or tied together and hung from metal rods, an innovation which received critical acclaim and known as his ‘Kite Paintings’. In the 1990s he returned to conventional surfaces, masterfully exploring combinations of exuberant colour.

From 1951 onwards Smith exhibited frequently in major galleries mainly in the UK and America and was honoured with thirty solo shows during his career. He was awarded the Grand Prize at the 9th São Paulo Biennial in 1968, represented Britain at the 1970 Venice Biennale and received the award of CBE in 1971. His work has been acquired by numerous public art collections on both sides of the Atlantic as well as Germany, Italy, Denmark and Australia.