Jeffrey Smart

Stop 7 of 32

A painting of a pitch roofed house in barren and desolate landscape full of pipes and debris. A water tower and a power pole with broken cables frame the house.

Jeffrey Smart
The wasteland II

Creation date: 1945

The wasteland II
1945 Flinders Ranges, South Australia
oil on canvas
60.9 x 73.4 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Purchased 1946
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart
Photo: AGNSW


Music composed by Alexandra Spence

I began by imagining how the materials and objects would sound - the rain tank popping as it expanded in the heat, the windmill clanking as it slowly turned - and what started as a dry desolate atmosphere began to shift into a shimmery surreal landscape.

Like many artists of his generation, Smart was drawn to the poetry of the twentieth century poet TS Eliot and his evocations of the modern world. He began by reading Eliot’s Preludes (1910–11), inspired by the idea that seemingly ordinary things could make great subjects. His painting The wasteland takes its title from Eliot’s 1922 epic poem. Widely regarded as one of the most influential poems of the twentieth century, 'The Waste Land' brought together a variety of quotations, languages and phrases, collaged together as though overheard while tuning a radio.