The Florida native, Philip Smith, moved to New York City early in his career to pursue art. He started his career writing for Interview, a popular culture magazine founded by Andy Warhol, before going on to be the managing editor of GQ magazine.
Smith’s photographs were first exhibited at Artists Space in New York City. As a member of the Pictures Generation, Smith worked with fellow photographers Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, and Laurie Simmons.
Imagery influenced by 1950s Cold War era propaganda, commercial advertisements, and literature can be seen in Smith’s paintings and prints. His compositions include imagery that is visible from afar but when viewed closely is fragmented and partially erased. Thus this technique creates a ghost-like and fleeting sensation. When describing his technique, Smith explains, “the result is somewhat similar to the intent of Jain paintings from India or Tibetan thangkas, which serve to open a door to another realm. This often results in a curious sensation of time travel for the viewer.”
Smith’s work is included in the permanent collections of many major institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, New York; Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas; Miami Art Museum in Miami, Florida; and the Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, Michigan. Smith’s memoir WALKING THROUGH WALLS, tells of his unusual childhood growing up with a father who claimed supernatural powers.