(Australia 26 Mar 1912–23 Jul 1949)
76.2 x 50.8cm stretcher; 90.5 x 65.0 x 3.2cm frame
After a brief period as a cadet midshipman, then a stint as a jackaroo in remote NSW, Peter Purves Smith began his formal art studies while on an extended trip to Europe, under Iain Macnab at London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art.
Surrealism was making its mark across Europe during this period, and shortly before his return to Australia in 1936, Purves Smith studied work by its leading practitioners shown in two major exhibitions held in London and New York that year.
'New York', with its organic anthropomorphic forms tilting out of control, displays affinities with the paintings of Salvador Dali, as well as with the cityscapes of New York’s Ash Can artists Edward Hopper and George Bellows. The painting was among the first in Australian art to adopt surrealism’s vocabulary, and predates his contemporaries James Gleeson and Albert Tucker by several years.
Ann Stephen (Australia) (Author), Andrew McNamara (Australia) (Author), Philip Goad (Australia) (Author), Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, Sydney, 2008, 89 (colour illus.). NOTE: Caption reads 'Purves Smith painted this surreal vision of New York skyscrapers after visiting the exhibition 'Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism' at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in December 1936.
Deborah Hart (South Africa; United Kingdom; Australia, b.1959) (Editor), Grace Cossington Smith, Canberra, 2005, 103.
'Peter Purves Smith 1912-1949: an exemplary exhibition of "modesty and discretion"' by John (Sam) Jones, pg. 227-229., Art and Australia (Vol. 39, No. 2) Dec 2001-Feb 2002, Dec 2001-Feb 2002, 228 (colour illus.), 229.
Mary Eagle (Australia, b.1944) (Author), Peter Purves Smith: a painter in peace and war, Roseville, 2001, 62, 63 (colour illus.), 64, 116.
Barry Pearce (Australia) (Author), Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Domain, 2000, 164, 166 (colour illus.), 167 (colour illus., detail), 302.
National Gallery of Australia (Australia, estab. 1982) (Editor), Surrealism: Revolution by night, Canberra, 1993, 237 (colour illus.), 257, 263, 325. cat.no. 246
Mary Eagle (Australia, b.1944) (Author), Jan Minchin (Author), The George Bell School: Students - Friends - Influences, Melbourne, 1981, 78 (colour illus.), 109 (illus.). dated incorrectly as 1939
Bernard Smith (Australia, b.1916, d.2011) (Author), Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, South Melbourne, 1979, 226.
Dr Joseph Brown (Australia) (Author), Maie Casey (Australia, b.1891, d.1983) (Author), Homage to Peter Purves-Smith 1912-1949, Melbourne, 1976, (illus.). cat.no. 4; not paginated
1960 Acquisitions 1960, 1960, 28-29. 'Painted in George Bell's studio, Melbourne 1936, from a sketch made in New York on the artist's way back from England' [information from the artist's widow, Mrs C.R. Purves Smith, in letter to Daniel Thomas, 12.12.1960].
'Modern Art in Melbourne' by Basil Burdett, pg. 12-23; 'The younger generation' by Basil Burdett, pg. 21, Art in Australia [series 3, no. 73] Nov 1938, Nov 1938, 21, 71 (illus.).
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 22 Mar 1961–23 Apr 1961.
Surrealism: Revolution by Night, National Gallery of Australia, 13 Mar 1993–02 May 1993.
Surrealism: Revolution by Night, Queensland Art Gallery, 21 May 1993–11 Jul 1993.
Surrealism: Revolution by Night, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30 Jul 1993–19 Sep 1993.
Peter Purves Smith, The Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, 08 Mar 2001–15 Apr 2001.
Peter Purves Smith, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia, 04 May 2001–10 Jun 2001.
Peter Purves Smith, Benalla Art Gallery, 02 Jul 2001–15 Aug 2001.
Peter Purves Smith, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 03 Sep 2001–15 Oct 2001.
Modern Times, Powerhouse Museum, 01 Aug 2008–08 Feb 2009.
Modern Times, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 23 Mar 2009–12 Jul 2009.
Modern Times, State Library of Queensland, 31 Jul 2009–08 Nov 2009.