Jeffrey Smart

Australia, Italy 1921-3013
Among Australia’s most celebrated expatriates, Smart is acclaimed for his images of the modern urban landscape; his cool, at times ironic approach; and his smooth and defined painting style. Studying first in Adelaide where he was a part of the modern movement, then in Paris under Fernand Léger, Smart developed as a painter in Sydney during the 1950s. Since gaining major recognition in the 1960s, when he settled permanently in Italy, he built his reputation through precise, meticulously-crafted paintings.

Truck and trailer approaching a city 1973

‘Most artists today don’t paint the cars we travel in, factories people work in, roads, road-signs and airports we all use,’ said Smart. ‘I am trying to paint the real world I live in, as beautiful as I can, with my own eye.’ The setting for this painting is Italy, where he lived for many years; however, Smart has also commented that the subject matter is secondary.

He has said about his work, ‘My only concern is putting the right shapes in the right colours in the right places. It is always the geometry’. In this painting, it’s the squared symmetry of the trucks against the patterned grid of the apartment blocks. Balancing colour as well as form, he illuminates the scene through a neutralised sky, counteracting the saturated reds.

Related material

A study for this painting is also in the Gallery’s collection.