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Photograph of William A. Smith, from <em>William A. Smith : A Retrospective</em>, 1996. James A. Michener Art Museum.

Artist William A. Smith produced a portfolio covering a vast range of subject matter in various media including oils, watercolors, prints, and photography. He also possessed many different titles throughout his life, including artist, teacher, traveler, and historian. Smith established himself as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers in the 1930s.

During World War II, he traveled through China working for the Office of Strategic Services-the predecessor of today's CIA. He continued to travel throughout his life, serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States and working actively for the International Association of Art, under the aegis of UNESCO, serving as its president from 1973 to 1977. He also served as an official delegate to the Soviet Union under a cultural exchange agreement.

Smith helped pioneer the use of fine art for commercial purposes and was the first fine artist to design a postage stamp for the United States in 1972. He was commissioned to complete many works, including the 1,000-foot murals for Maryland House, portraits of Carl Sandberg and George Nakashima, and stamp designs of American Revolutionary history. Smith's work is based on careful observation of people and places. His art not only exhibits a concern for naturalism and draughtsmanship, but a psychological and emotional depth. His work is in many major museums, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress.

Photograph of William A. Smith, from William A. Smith : A Retrospective, 1996. James A. Michener Art Museum.

Education & Community

William A. Smith (1918-1989), <em>Christmas</em>. Illustration. Private collection.

Education and Training
Theodore Keane's Art School, Toledo, Ohio, 1932-1936
Univeristy of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, 1936-1937
Honorary M.A., University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, 1954

William A. Smith (1918-1989), Christmas. Illustration. Private collection.


Solo Exhibitions
40 one-man exhibitions, mainly in Europe and Asia
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, 1942, 1952
Society of Illustrators, New York, New York, 1946
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, 1952
William A. Smith: A Retrospective
, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1996

Group Exhibitions
Ohio State Exhibition, Ohio, 1933
American Watercolor Society, New York, New York, 1942-1944, 1946
American Directors Club, 1943
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1943
Society of Illustrators, New York, New York, 1944, 1946
California Watercolor Society, California, 1946
Contemporary American Illustrators, 1946
Philadelphia Watercolor Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946
Contemporary Art United States, Los Angeles, California
200 Years of Watercolor Painting in America,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1966-1967
Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections
, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005-2006

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
National Academy of Design, New York, New York
Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Illustrations for Saturday Evening Post
Monograph for Gerd Utescher, 1912-1983

Novels and Short Stories
Illustrations for The Chinese Children Next Door, 1942
Illustrations for The Water-Buffalo Children, 1943

Postage Stamp Commissions: Sidney Lanier, 1972; Carl Sandberg, 1978; Rise to Liberty Series, 1975-1984
Portrait of Carl Sandberg
, commissioned for National Portrait Gallery, 1963
Maryland Historical Mural
, Maryland House, Maryland, 1967-1968

Awards & Appointments

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Art Instructor, Grand Central Art School, 1942-1943
Lecturer, Academy of Fine Arts, Athens, Greece, 1954
Lecturer, University of Santa Thomas, Manila, Philippines, 1955
Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland, 1958
Pratt Institute, New York, New York
Vice President on the board of directors of Pearl S. Buck's Welcome House, 1968-1973

Silver Medal, American Watercolor Society, 1948, 1952, 1973
Watercolor Award, National Academy of Design, 1949, 1951
Ronaer Fund Purchase, 1951
Adolf and Clara Obrig Prize for Oil Painting, 1953
American Artist Group Prize for Lithography, Society of American Graphic Artists, 1954
Stuart Watercolor Prize, 1954
Pennell Memorial Purchase, 1956
Knobloch Prize, 1956
Gold Medal, American Watercolor Society, 1957, 1965
Winslow Homer Memorial Award, 1962
Bronze Medal, American Watercolor Society, 1972
American Patriots Medal, 1974
Postal Commemorative Society Prize, 1974
Dolphin Fellowship Award, 1975
Walter Biggs Memorial Award, National Academy of Design, 1986

Carl Sandburg Poem

Flowers and promises,
rocks and rookeries,
Horses of galloping anxiety
and houses whose walls hide
characters in search of themselves,
faces of gnomes saying
much of history is an alley crap game,
shadow feet moving toward fables
just around the next corner,
gnarled fingers feeling in pockets
for a time-table and bus-fare
people and meditations
placed in a quiet whispering gallery
these linger with me
from the graphic art
of my friend Bill Smith

-Carl Sandberg

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