Exhibition

Anno Smith

16 October 2015 to 05 June 2016

Numerous public buildings in the city of Groningen are beautifully decorated with remarkably coloured ceramic façade elements. Many people are familiar with these pieces of art, yet seldom with the name of their creator: Anno Smith.

  • Relief De Alkmaarse Kaasdragers by Anno Smith, located in a wall of a former warehouse in the Dutch city of Groningen.
  • Anno Smith, Gevelsteen "Woningplan 1950", DEZE STEEN IS GELEGD ALS SYMBOOL VAN DE EENDRACHTIGE SAMENWERKING VAN 30 GEMEENTEN TER VERWEZENLIJKING VAN HET 1000 WONINGENPLAN 1950
  • Anno Smith, steengoed schaaltje met blauwe glazuur, 1935-1990, diameter 18 cm, collectie Groninger Museum

Anno Ferdinand Smith (Groningen 1915 – 1990 Groningen) was artistically educated at the Academie Minerva in the city of Groningen, where he took lessons from the sculptor Willem Valk and the drawing teacher Arnold Willem Kort. After finishing his education in 1937 he decides to become a ceramist. He successfully experiments with various glazes. Due to his remarkable colouring he soon manages to establish a name for himself in circles of arts and crafts lovers.

After World War ll Anno Smith also becomes known to the public. Following the success of his tableau De Kaasdragers (The Cheese Carriers) located in a warehouse at the Westerhaven (in the city of Groningen), he becomes much in demand in the Northern parts of the Netherlands as a façade ceramist. He provides wall decorations for schools, public buildings and housing corporations. A good example of his building beautification artwork is his work on public housing apartment buildings in a number of residential areas in the city of Groningen (such as the West-Indische buurt, the Rivierenbuurt and De Wijert), for which he creates a uniquely decorated look for literally each of the mentioned apartment building’s porches. Anno Smith also worked with heraldic symbols.

During the 1960’s his building ceramics became abstract.
Though his work has started to attract more attention in recent years, it is also threatened. This stems from the fact that residential and other post-war reconstruction buildings are nowadays often subject to redesignation or even demolition. Luckily it is increasingly proving possible to save Anno Smith’s ceramic art when it is discovered on such buildings and – whenever the circumstances allow it – indeed relocate it.


This exhibition was realised in cooperation with the art historian Jaap Ekhart, the photographer Rudmer Nijman and several lenders.