Jack Smith was born in Sheffield 18th June 1928 and went to school at Nether Edge Grammar before training at the Sheffield School of Art. In 1946 he was called up for national service in the RAF and resumed studying at St Martin’s School of art in London between 1948-1950. In the early fifties Smith became associated with the new generation of British Realists. He was one of four artists known as the Beaux Arts quartet along with Sheffield-born Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and John Bratby. They were dubbed ‘The Kitchen Sink’ school after Smith exhibited a painting called ‘Children and Dog’ showing a little girl playing in a poorly furnished kitchen beside a despondent dog. The group was not overjoyed about acquiring this nickname and it stuck with them throughout their period of Realist painting which ran parallel to the kitchen sink drama of late fifties and early 60s.
Smith continued his studies at the Royal College of Art from 1950 to 1953 and specialised in painting interiors with still lifes and figures and worked on many domestic scenes, often featuring his own home. He had his first one-man show at the Beaux Arts Gallery 1953 and won first prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition1956. From the mid-1950s Smith became increasingly interested in the effects of light on shapes and explored abstract forms in his work. He stopped painting realistic scenes of domestic life and focussed on painting the abstract formations and patterns for which he is most famous. In 1956 he was included in the Venice Biennale and the Whitechapel Gallery held a retrospective exhibition of his work in 1959.
Smith died 11th June 2011.