Not Quite Straight by Jeffrey Smart
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Australian artist Jeffrey Smart's wicked and utterly engaging memoir.
Born in respectable (read: dull) Adelaide in 1921, Jeffrey Smart made his first Grand Tour of Europe at age 4. By 5 he had discovered Sex (with a female classmate) and Crime. By 18 he’d decided he was the only person in Australia who was ‘not quite straight’.
The subsequent decades brought further enlightenment, more travel, study with Fernand Leger, artistic development, adventures high and low, international acclaim, friends famous and infamous and - fittingly for someone who refers to himself as ‘a European who carries an Australian passport’ - a permanent return to the ancient, sun-soaked landscape of Tuscany.
This is Jeffrey Smart's account of that very full life. He writes with a wicked wit of his family, friends and lovers, and of his jobs, including being the much-loved Phidias in ABC Radio’s ‘The Argonauts’ and the more lowly position of sink-scrubber on a slow boat to London, before finding fame as an artist. Throughout he is candid, funny and engaging.
Like Smart’s paintings, Not Quite Straight offers a singular perspective shaped by a unique life.