Jeffrey Smart - The Guiding Sp
Smart studied at the SASA from 1937-1941 under Ivor Hele. Originally Smart aspired to be an architect but soon moved into painting. Smart studied in Paris in 1949 with Fernand Leger and in 1941 he attended the studio lessons of the Modernist artist Dorrit Black who introduced him to the geometric method for establishing the Golden Mean, which today forms the basis of all of Smart's work. He has been exhibiting regularly since 1957 and in 1999-2000 he was honoured by a major retrospective organised by the AGNSW. Since 1965 Smart has been living in Italy. His work is represented in the NGA, all state galleries, many regional galleries and numerous private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the de Beers collection.
He was born, grew up and lived in Adelaide, South Australia, until 1948. His father, a rela-estate developer, proud of his first son, named a street in a new subdivision "Jeffrey": the dogleg street later gave Smart the title of his autobiography, Not Quite Straight.
Smart's first ambition was to be an architect, and the relationship between the constructed environment and people has been a costant theme of his work. From 1939 to 1941, Smart studied at the Adelaide Teacher's College and the South Australian School of Art and Crafts. Literature and classical music were also integral to Smart's aestetic development.
At this time smart also acknowledged his homosexuality, although in conservative Adelaide he had to tread carefully. For five years from 1942, Smart taught art in schools for the South Australian Education Department.
In 1949 he traveled to the US, then to Britain and Europe. After living and studying in Paris, Smart spent a year with artist friends, including Donald Friend, in Ischia on the Bay of Naples before eturning to Australia to live in Sydney.
Smart felt constrined in his private life while he was employed in "The Children's Hour" for Australian Broadcasting Commission, but he and Donald Friend occasionally sought out like-minded men in the "camp" quarters of Sydney.
In 1963 he returned to Italy, where he has lived ever since. At his home in Arezzo some order and stability was established in 1976 when Ermes de Zan moved in. he was not only an assistant to help with painting, but he reorganised the garden, attended to practical matters and provided Smart with emotional support. Their relationship continues.
Excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001