Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sam Smith: Tigers, Harpies, Centaurs And A Packet of Crisps

Sam Smith (1908-1983) created characters of startling personality, based on enduring types (e.g., the Harpy, the Bareback Rider, the Steamboat Captain), showed us small worlds that opened endlessly inwards.

I love most the mood of his settings, which are snapshots of the phantasmagorical made into the reality of everyday: but of course one sees centaurs being ferried across the river on a Tuesday! and parti-colored tigers on parade down main street!

Like all true artists, Smith generates in his audience the urge to create as well--in my case, to create stories based on the whimsical people he sculpted and the eccentric toys he made.  I have for years built narratives around his mock-solemn, gently skewed, brightly lacquered creatures.  His sculptures are vignettes captured mid-stride...but where are they going, and why?
Deborah & I had the great good fortune to see Smith's work at his last major exhibition, at the Serpentine Gallery in London in the winter of 1980-'81.  His vision has never left us since.  

For more on Smith, click here.

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