Vacuum-formed screen-printed sheets are held in relief by wooden supports. The image of squared sheeting is obscured by density of scribbling which often overspills onto the support. The moulding divides in two, creating a mirror-effect. Colour schemes and materials evoke an office ambiance, while the title implies that this set of prints reflects on its destination as art for a suite of offices, cultural insignia for an up-market organisation (such, ironically, as CNAA itself).
LOGO A. Mauve by Richard Smith
Crucial to Smith's development was the conjunction in 1956 of the impact of Abstract Expressionism and Marshall McLuhan's writings, exalting the means of communication over imagery. A couple of years in New York (1959-61) opened Smith's eyes to the ambiance of American commercial culture, with its lush seductive colours, exploitation of magnification and soft-focus effects, and its general stimulation of desire and fantasy. Smith's first print Zoom (1963), with its magnification of a cigarette packet, relates to his contemporary paintings which physically extended canvases towards the spectator in order to encapsulate within painting advertising's goal of enticing and overpowering the urban spectator. As Smith wrote in 1963, 'my interest is ... in the form of the message and its relationship to the spectator.'
Thereafter, direct imagery was abandoned in favour of shaping the painting's support. Paintings became physically bulky, though simply a matter of cutting and folding canvas over shaped stretchers. One set of 1968 lithographs is titled after the theatre designer Edward Gordon Craig and exemplifies his interest in a theatrical design analogy of 'directing space.' Logo relates to this development of the previous half-decade, whereas during that same year Smith set a different course for himself with his literally lightweight and collapsible 'kite' paintings.
Zoom had translated the visually and literally looming effect spatially of contemporary advertising (and increasingly of his own paintings) back into two dimensions. In Logo, two-dimensional materials (sheeting) are transformed into relief form. Instead of the representation of sheet packaging, we are presented with stylistic packaging made into the representation (hence its title). Smith was now involved self-consciously in making the medium of office requisites (from literal equipment to the function of smart furnishing or wall decoration) into his aesthetic 'message', with the attendant danger of being taken literally for what it seemed.
|Artwork type:||painted relief|
|Material:||vacuum-formed plastic, screen printed and supported by wood panel|
|Measurements:||603 x 502 x 51 mm mm|
|Technique:||vacuum-forming, screen printing|
|Location:||Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE. View by appointment; please contact the AHRC's Facilities Manager on 01179 876 500|
|Rights owner:||Richard Smith|
|Rights status:||UK HE use only|
|Institution:||Council for National Academic Awards|
|Notes:||He studied at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1954 to 1957, and from 1959 to 1961 lived in New York on a Harkness Fellowship|