Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Archibald


You might remember this delightful little lady as Margaret Olley from my post, A National Treasure, on Feb 5th.
The portrait behind her was done by the artist William Dobell and won the Archibald Prize for portraiture in 1948.

After writing the post about Margaret Olley, and as the Archibald prize is again in the news with the latest award having been made, I thought I'd look out some of the other Archibald winners and their subjects.

The Archibald was first awarded in 1921 and from its outset it has been mired in controversy. There have been numerous disputes and legal battles over what constitutes portraiture and whether the subject is sufficiently 'distinguished ' to meet the terms of the competition criterion.

Last year Del Katherine Barton painted her self portrait with her children Kell and Arella, entitled: You are what is most beautiful about me. Her entry won the 2008 Archibald.

In 2007 the Sydney artist John Beard won the Archibald with his painting of another artist - Janet Laurence who is well known for her installation art.

You may recognize this next face. The actor David Gulpilil came to the attention of the film makers of Walkabout, a 1970 movie. They were so impressed with his dancing ability that they enlisted him as an actor for the movie. He also acted in Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee and most recently you may have seen him in the epic Australia as the Aboriginal elder King George.

Craig Ruddy won the Archibald in 2004 for this portrait of Gulpilil. A controversy arose at the time as to whether this piece of work could be considered technically to be a painting and therefore qualify for the competition.

Brett Whiteley painted his self portrait in 1976 and took out the prize. Whiteley, one of Australia's best known 20th century painters, was the wild boy of Australian art in the second half of the 1900s. He intrigued Australia and the world with his wild expansive eclectic canvases and his even wilder life and exploits.
This painting with only the small mirror image of Whiteley also created heated arguments amongst the judges, critics and the general public.

Brett Whiteley 1939-1992
Photo by Jacqueline Mitelman

Whiteley won the Archibald again in 1978 with this triptych - Art Life and the other thing.

The painting represents the three different aspects of the artist's self. The first his addicted self. The baboon is the monkey on his back being handed a syringe in the top left hand corner. Whiteley struggled with his addiction and eventually died from it in 1992.
The second panel represents portraiture and how far that can be pushed and the final panel is the artist's real self.

In his final years Whiteley retreated to Fiji where he painted the native people and later began painting birds which were a great source of beauty for him.

The Sunrise - Japanese Good Morning

And the 2009 Archibald winner is Guy Maestri who painted this portait of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

With his extraordinary voice and hauntingly beautiful album, Gurrumul, Indigenous singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has become something of a cultural phenomenon over the last year.
Born blind, the gifted musician leads a traditional lifestyle on Elcho Island in Arnhem Land and sings in his native Yolngu language, but his fame is spreading the world. He recently won two coveted ARIA Awards among others and was named NT Australian of the Year for 2008.

Hear Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu sing here:


Excerpt From:




  1. Always so interesting. ooxoxoxoxo

    Love Renee

  2. Thanks Renee, hows your day? I am finding lots of things rhyme with your name.

  3. Why have my blog list, my blog archives and names here gone this terrible colour?
    Anyone help?

  4. I love to go to the Archibald exhibition when it comes round. Thank You, Delwyn for the peak.


  5. Hi Natalie, Lucky you are down there...

  6. lovely,lovely,lovely again!

    xxxx mona

  7. When you go to customize choose fonts and colors there you can change the colors etc.

    Good luck!

  8. Hi Mona, yes I have tried that and the posts prior to today will change but not today. I wonder if it is connected to the hyperlink????
    I'm hoping it will revert back tomorrow with a new post.

  9. Many thanks for such an interesting post. I loved the 2008 winner and the title is excellent, You are What is Most Beautiful About Me. Thank you very much indeed.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Hello ACINL, I love that painting too. Its awholesome family picture with a shiva-like quality.

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