Clifford Smith was born in Passaic, New Jersey. He earned his BS degree in 1973 at Southern Connecticut State College, New Haven, Connecticut, and his MFA degree in 1979 at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Smith now resides in New Hampshire. Since the late 1970s, he has had numerous solo exhibitions, at venues including the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art at Midland Center for the Arts, Michigan; Derryfield School, Manchester, New Hampshire; Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire; the Art Center at Hargate, St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire; Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts; the Art Gallery at New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire; the Art Center in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts; Greenville Museum of Art, North Carolina; Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey; and Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Smith has participated in group exhibitions across the country. He received a Teaching Assistantship from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1979, and a New Hampshire Arts Council Fellowship in 2000.
Smith’s work can be found in many public collections, including the American Stock Exchange, New York; Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey; Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts; New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord; and Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Seemingly photographic, Clifford Smith’s images of ocean fields as well as urban and rural landscapes are revealed on direct observation to be sensuously painted, reflecting the artist’s attention to texture and surface. They are also blends of different moments in time, evoking a deeper and more spiritual understanding on the part of the viewer of the essence of a subject. That Clifford Smith’s compositions appear to extend beyond the perimeters of a work’s frame engages us in a heightened awareness of the composite and transient nature of experience. At the same time, by involving the totality of the picture plane in his works, Smith brings out the conflict between the three-dimensionality of life and the two-dimensionality of the painted representation. His images evoke the tension in our world today between perception and reality. Among the artists Smith admires are Caravaggio, John Constable, and contemporary painters such as Rackstraw Downes, Frank Stella, and Gerhard Richter. The breadth of Smith’s sources underscores his passion for uniting direct observation with conceptual understanding.