An image of New York

Peter Purves Smith

(Australia 26 Mar 1912 – 23 Jul 1949)

New York

20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

After a brief period as a cadet midshipman, then a stint as a jackaroo in remote NSW, Peter Purves Smith began his formal art studies while on an extended trip to Europe, under Iain Macnab at London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art.
Surrealism was making its mark across Europe during this period, and shortly before his return to Australia in 1936, Purves Smith studied work by its leading practitioners shown in two major exhibitions held in London and New York that year.

'New York', with its organic anthropomorphic forms tilting out of control, displays affinities with the paintings of Salvador Dali, as well as with the cityscapes of New York’s Ash Can artists Edward Hopper and George Bellows. The painting was among the first in Australian art to adopt surrealism’s vocabulary, and predates his contemporaries James Gleeson and Albert Tucker by several years.

circa 1936
oil on canvas
76.2 x 50.8 cm stretcher; 90.5 x 65.0 x 3.2 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1960
Accession number