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Artist Richard Smith dies aged 84

BBC News BBC News 18/04/2016

British artist Richard Smith has died at the age of 84.

Best-known as a painter and print-maker of the 1960s avant-garde movement, Smith died in New York, his representatives said in a statement.

Among his most famous works were large-scale sculptural canvases featuring a "protruding" 3D effect, with names such as Panatella and Revlon.

Smith pushed the boundaries of painting and had an "abstract painterly style very much his own", said the statement.

His works are currently on display at Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London.

There are also pieces on show at Downing College in Cambridge, until 22 May, and in his hometown of Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, until 5 June.

Smith studied at the Royal College of Art and soon after graduation was awarded the prestigious Harkness Fellowship, which allowed him to move to New York and hold his first one-man show.

On returning in 1963, he made a name for himself with giant canvases, which would seem to overtake a gallery space.

As well as the "synthetic" names he gave his works, he chose to paint in loud, vibrant colours, inspired by the consumerism he encountered during his time in the US.

'Glamour and prismatic colour'

Later works for which he became renowned were his Kite paintings. They stood out for replacing the traditional wooden supports used for canvases with aluminium rods and strings.

This allowed the paintings to be hung freely in most environments and in a way which complemented the surrounding architecture.

Art historian Marco Livingstone said Smith "was at the forefront of a development in painting that took its cues not from the natural world but from visual stimuli already processed through culture".

"Smith's joyful embrace of glamour and prismatic colour after the grey decade-and-a-half of post-war austerity, brought him within the orbit of Pop Art at its very inception and assured him an important place in its early history," Livingstone added.

Smith continued in the subsequent decades to construct site-specific works in public and private spaces, often hanging from the ceilings or architectural supports.

Smith was chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1970. He also won many prizes for his work, including the Grand Prize at the Sao Paulo Biennial. He was made a CBE in 1971.

Permanent collections of his works are held by various organisations and galleries in the UK and the US, including the British Museum, the Tate, the V&A and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Smith is survived by his wife Betsy and his two sons Edward and Harry and their families.

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