Part 1: Important Fine Art
28 November 2012


born 1921

oil on canvas

36.5 x 62.0 cm

signed lower left: JEFFREY SMART

$90,000 - 120,000
Sold for $102,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 27 - 28 November 2012, Melbourne

Australian Galleries, Sydney
Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


Jeffrey Smart Paintings: 1958–1999 Including Seven New Works, Australian Galleries, Sydney, 27 August – 15 September 1999, cat. 9 (illus. in accompanying exhibition catalogue)

Catalogue text

Jeffrey Smart's mastery of expectancy is so effective that, in Second Study for Stadium Entrance, the excitement generated before the big game is palpable. It is made even more so by the placement of the spectator/viewer outside the stadium, eager to enter. There is that hush before the start, those same emotions that Smart generates so well in other paintings as darkening skies foretell a coming storm of Wagnerian might - which never arrives. Again, it is like being at the opera waiting for the curtains to rise to reveal a dimension beyond reality. Compositionally perfect, as always, all Smart's forms and colours conspire and aspire towards realization of the ideal, which, being beyond human endeavour, we must wait upon, as does the expectant sports fan and theatre goer.Paradoxically, the ever-enigmatic Smart is the ever-objective observer - coolly viewing the stadium where so much passion will soon be spilt. Smart, however, cleverly introduces another tension, that pull between anonymity - figures are seen only in part through the partially opened gate - and passion, as the starkly profiled grandstand takes on a menacing feel, reaching claw like into the sky. In the catalogue essay to the 1999 exhibition in which this painting was shown, Bruce Beresford perceptively observed, 'People depicted in the paintings often seem overwhelmed or bewildered by their surroundings and there appeared to be a hidden narrative that made them all the more tantalising.'1 Shadows, as always, are a fundamental part of the composition and heightened mood.

In his choice of subject, Smart revisited an old favourite, the 1964 painting Ticket Boxes, Catania shown in his first solo exhibition in Rome that same year. A particular fascination of the Stadium Entrance studies, really finished paintings in their own right, is their revelation of the genesis and development of the artist's ideas - of the steps towards that perfection which so characterizes Smart's art. In this instance, the second study is the mirror image of the first, the spectator stand moved from right to left with the entrance realigned in harmony. Another interesting feature of the second study is the adoption of a more rectangular format, achieving greater elegance through the elongation of forms.There is the continuing interest in broad surfaces such as walls and their textures, sometimes highlighted with graffiti and posters. The two studies were shown in Smart's 1999 exhibition at the Australian Galleries, Sydney. The exhibition was arranged specially to coincide with the major, touring retrospective of Smart's work organized by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

1. Jeffrey Smart: Paintings 1958-1999, Australian Galleries, Sydney, 1999, no pagination
2. In the final painting Smart reverted to the first presentation, while retaining the elongated format