Jeffrey Smart

Learning Resource

The right hand two thirds of the painting are taken up with a warm apartment building from which each window has a small cube shaped balcony protruding. A person relaxes on the lower closest balcony, and another building rises to the left in front of a stormy sky.

Jeffrey Smart
Holiday

1971

Holiday
1971 Rome, Italy
oil on canvas
100 x 81 cm
Private collection, courtesy of Menzies Art Brands
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart


Smart was quoted in ‘Jeffrey Smart’ by Sandra McGrath (Art & Australia, Vol 7, No 1, June 1969, page 34) as follows:

‘The subject matter is only the hinge that opens the door, the hook on which one hangs the coat. My only concern is putting the right shapes in the right colours in the right places. My main concern always is the geometry, the structure of the painting.’

While Smart’s paintings often include figurative imagery, this quote emphasises the artist’s focus on composition. You can see this tension in Holiday through his use of repetitious forms disrupted by the lone figure on the balcony.

Look carefully at this painting. At first sight it looks like a clever perspectival rendition of the front of an apartment building, almost a tribute to the simplicity of modern architecture. What else can you see?

Think about the almost-invisible person in this painting, the buildings, the title of the work and the emotional quality of the sky. What meaning can you make from examining these elements? Discuss your interpretation of the work.

The building that dominates Holiday is like a woven, textured surface viewed from the side.

Create a paper weaving from two or three different coloured papers. One colour can be your loom. Fold this strip in half and then cut strips almost to the top, but not completely through.

Next, open out that paper and start weaving strips of one or two other colours into it. (See link below for simple instructions.)

Try another paper weaving. This time experiment with cutting different types of lines like zigzags or curves. You can also try pre-patterning the coloured papers.

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