Tuesday, 21 February 2023

100 Years of the Archies

Last year was the centenary of the Archibald Prize, Australia's leading portraiture competition, commonly known as "The Archies".  There was a very interesting series on the ABC television called "Finding the Archies" that we enjoyed.  It is still available to stream on iview at the present time.  

The show discussed the evolution of the competition and was searching for some of the paintings, all the while preparing for a retrospective touring exhibition.  This exhibition toured the capital cities and just one regional gallery, the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and is in town until the end of March.  How lucky are we.

Not all the items on display were winners of the Archies, but all were finalists.
The early paintings were quite traditional, with mainly male artists and subjects.
Gradually, women artists and subjects were introduced.
Celebrities are common subject matter.  The painting of Ian ("Mollie") Meldrum was purchased by Elton John and then gifted to Mollie.  It was painted in his Egyptian themed home and now normally hangs there.
Politicians are another common subject.  Former Prime Minister Paul Keating looks very formal in this prize winning portrait, whereas former Prime Minister John Howard looks rather casual.
The portraits were hung in themes.  This one being locals.  The subject of the bottom centre portrait is the celebrated aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, who was the first indigenous Australian to be granted citizenship.
His great grandson, Vincent Namatjira, has entered portraits on four occasions.  This self portrait was Highly Commended in 2018.
Some are controversial, such as Brett Whiteley's self portrait "Art, Life and Other Things", which won the Prize in 1978. 
I was pleased to see this portrait of Penelope Seidler in the exhibition, as it was discussed in the documentary.  It has such a lovely soft quality about it and was the winner of the Prize in 2014.
The winning portrait from 1973 was another I really liked, being a portrait of actor and playwright Michael Boddy.  The artist was Janet Dawson and she was just the third woman to win the Prize.

We really enjoyed seeing the portraits and learning more about the history of the competition and were so pleased that we had the opportunity to visit the exhibition without having to travel.


loulee said...

There are some beautiful works in the collection.

Maria said...

So many fabulous paintings.

Fiona said...

Great exhibition to go and see.....

cityquilter grace said...

very interesting and beautiful portraits even tho i don't know the people...

Cheryll said...

Definitely great talent on display...xox

jude's page said...

Great opportunity having it on your doorstep