Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jeffrey Smart

Australian expat artist Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) died in Arrezzo, Italy, earlier this year at age 91, with his partner of more than 30 years, Ermes De Zan, at his side. Born in Adelaide, Australia, Smart was known for his precisionist post-industrial paintings of everyday life. He trained at the South Australian School of Art and acknowledged his homosexuality in the early 1940s. He then traveled to Europe after WW II, where he studied in Paris. Smart returned to Australia in 1951 to work as an art critic for the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Following stints as a television presenter for the Australian Broadcasting Company and teacher at the National Art School in Sydney, in 1965 he relocated permanently to Italy, where he painted for the rest of his long life.

Erica Green, director of the Samstag Museum of Art at the University of South Australia, where Smart trained between 1937-1941, said Smart had left a "wonderful legacy of art". The museum mounted a retrospective of his work last year (Oct. 2012 - Feb. 2013) that featured the first public display of his last completed painting, Labyrinth (2011). "He has made a truly significant contribution to Australian art and to understanding how we view our urban landscape. That's really Jeffrey's legacy. He was a larger than life character, and he was loved by many people. He was an absolute gentleman, very gregarious, charming, a great host," according to Green.

Smart worked mostly with oil, acrylic and watercolors, generally using primary colors of yellow, blue and red with dark greys for his skies. This created an unusual effect in his works, with fully-lit foregrounds despite dark skies. His production style was a long and arduous one, resulting in a scant dozen or so finished canvases a year.

Smart’s autobiography, Not Quite Straight, was published in 1996. Following his death in Tuscany from kidney failure, the University of South Australia announced that upon completion of the newest building at its City West campus in 2014, it will be named the "Jeffrey Smart Building."

Below are several of Smart’s paintings, which sell for premium prices. In 2011, his “Autobahn in the Black Forest II (1980) sold for US $908,000.00 at auction in Melbourne (AUS $1,020,000).

Rushcutters Bay Baths, 1961

Morning Practice, Baia, 1969

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