Jack Smith studied at Sheffield College of Art (1944–1946), Saint Martin’s School of Art (1948–1950) and the Royal College of Art (1950–1953). At the RCA, Smith studied under John Minton, Ruskin Spear and Carel Weight. During the 1950s, Smith’s early work was in a neo-realist style known as ‘The Kitchen Sink School featuring domestic subjects.
In the 1960s, Smith abandoned realism and adopted a brightly coloured, abstract style comparable to those of Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, incorporating Constructivism and Biomorphism with elements of hieroglyphic and musical notation. In an interview with the British Library, Smith speaks about his shift to non-figurative art, and the means in which he experiments with form in his abstract work of the 60’s. Smith states that: ‘Sometimes I like to confuse the spectator with different realities, so there’s flatness, lots of flatness and suddenly there’s something which maybe thought of as three-dimensional, so I may use shadow in that case, you know. But that’s again in order to create a visual, a visual diversion if you like, or what might be considered a sudden foreign body in the work.’