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Richard Smith:
Kite Works from the 1970’s

March 19, 2016 – April 23, 2016

Richard Smith: Kite Works from the 1970’s

The exhibition catalogue for Richard Smith’s solo show at the Tate in 1975 begins this way:

“Richard Smith is an odd artist, at once in and out of touch with the currents in the mainstream.  For the past fifteen years his work has in some way contacted every variety of contemporary innovation; yet Smith has sworn no unconditional allegiance to any school or category of style.  This duality – the ability to be au courant and aloof at the same time – is typical of Smith’s personality as well as of his art.  Because of the inherent tension involved in balancing simultaneously two (or more) essentially antithetical attitudes, his work continues to compel interest, to remain mysteriously and provocatively ambiguous.”

Smith began his career in New York.  He was associated with Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Jack Youngerman, all artists working on Coenties Slip on the southern tip of Manhattan.  In 1961 he had a solo exhibition at Richard Bellamy’s famed Green Gallery in Manhattan (which showed di Suvero, Flavin, Judd, Morris, Oldenberg, Segal, Samaras and Wesselmann, among others) and over the many following years has had a long and steady career.  The early 1970’s were a particularly famed period for the artist, beginning with representing the UK at the Venice Biennale in 1970 and culminating in the 1975 survey exhibition at the Tate.

Barbara Krakow Gallery’s exhibition’s primary focus is the year, 1975.  Smith’s work, by that time, was transparent in its presentation.  Each piece showed how it was made, what materials were used, how it is suspended in space, etc..  For the works with paper, one can see clearly that the placement of the hole on each sheet explains how it hangs at the angle that it does.  Yet, Smith didn’t stop there – “imagery”, “shapes” and or “lines” point out the variation from sheet to sheet, play with the notion of representational weight and yet also provide a unified ‘system’ within each work.

The artist has continually asserted that the method (more than the medium or the message) is key for him.  To quote M.I.T.’s 1978 Richard Smith exhibition catalogue by Marjory Jacobson, “the most compelling virtues of Smith’s recent work is its synthesis of contradictory modes.  By subverting the conventions he sets forth as representative of a particular disposition, tensile ambiguity results”.

Works In Exhibition

Exhibition View

Richard Smith Exhibition View

Exhibition View

Richard Smith Exhibition View

Russian I

Richard Smith Russian I 1975 Etching on paper with deckled edge in three parts, punched hole additions and string

Paper size:  20 3/8 x 20 1/4 inches each  (51.8 x 51.4 cm each)
Overall size:  Approx. 36 x 30 3/4 inches  (91.4 x 78.1 cm)
Edition of 50, 10 AP
Signed, dated and numbered on top sheet (triangle) below image, lower left
(Inventory #27907)

 

 

Diary

Richard Smith Diary 1975 Screenprint on seven sheets with deckled edge,

punched hole additions, string and pole
Paper size:  20 3/8 x 20 3/8 inches each  (51.8 x 51.8 cm each)
Overall size:  Approx. 36 x 72 inches  (91.4 x 182.9 cm)
Edition of 50
Signed on accompanying label
(Inventory #27910)

Exhibition View

Richard Smith Exhibition View

Russian II

Richard Smith Russian II 1975 Etching on paper with deckled edge in three parts, punched hole additions and string

Paper size:  20 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches each  (51.4 x 51.4 cm each)
Edition of 50
Signed, numbered and dated lower left on top sheet (black square)
(Inventory #27908)

 

 

Par Terre

Richard Smith Par Terre 1975 Screenprint on paper with deckled edge in three parts, punched hole additions and string

Paper size:  20 1/4 x 20 1/2 inches each  (51.4 x 52.1 cm each)
Overall size:  Approx. 36 x 31 1/4 inches  (91.4 x 79.4 cm)
Edition of 15, AP
Signed, dated and numbered on top sheet, lower left corner
(Inventory #27909)

 

 

Exhibition View

Richard Smith Exhibition View

Window II

Richard Smith Window II 1978 Acrylic on canvas with string in three parts

Overall size approx 76 3/4 x 72 1/8 inches  (194.9 x 183.2 cm)
Signed and dated on tag of each piece located on reverse
(Inventory #27851)

 

 

Exhibition View

Richard Smith Exhibition View

Blue Side

Richard Smith Blue Side 1975 Unique pastel and acrylic on paper with deckled edge in three parts,

punched hole additions and string
Image/paper size:  19 x 19 inches each  (48.3 x 48.3 cm each)
Overall size:  Approx. 28 3/4 x 28 3/4 inches  (73 x 73 cm)
Signed along bottom left edge of first sheet in light blue ink and on reverse of bottom sheet
(Inventory #27906)