Margaret Olley: A muse and artistic subject for others

Margaret Olley’s friendships with artists are chronicled in their pictures of her, such as William Dobell’s 1948 Archibald Prize–winning painting, works by Russell Drysdale and Jeffrey Smart and, much later, Ben Quilty’s 2011 Archibald Prize–winning portrait. No other subject has won the Archibald twice (self-portraits by Brett Whiteley and William Robinson aside), and the 63-year…

Portrait of Albert Namatjira

A conventional portrait — a seated half-figure painted from life — which is disrupted by the subject’s race. In mid-twentieth-century Australia, Indigenous people had rarely figured in a genre that confirmed the status of ‘elder statesman’ upon its (mainly male) subjects. William Dargie’s Portrait of Albert Namatjira 1956 has subsequently become the most identifiable image…

Ben Quilty’s ‘Sergeant P, after Afghanistan’ captures the sitter’s raw physicality

In October 2011, Ben Quilty toured with Australian troops as an official war artist for the Australian War Memorial, part of its scheme to document the experiences of Australians deployed to the frontline in Afghanistan. Quilty’s Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 is a brave attempt to capture the intensity of experience felt by soldiers involved…

Margaret Olley: The subject is garden flowers

Margaret Olley, towards the end of her life, became one of the most affectionately regarded of Australian artists. Her still life and interior paintings attracted wide appreciation by the public. Although she produced landscapes and townscapes in the early part of her career, interiors and flower studies effectively dominated her production. Olley’s flower paintings in…

Albert Namatjira, an Australian identity

William Dargie’s iconic image of Albert Namatjira has become the most identifiable image of the artist, and Ben Quilty and Vincent Namatjira have each been inspired to incorporate this original into their versions. Ben Quilty’s painting Albert 2004 features two identifiable Australian identities placed together, Namatjira, the pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art, and the…

Watch Ben Quilty draw with Margaret Olley’s teapot cast in chalk

Watch our time-lapse as Ben Quilty draws portraits of Margaret Olley on the wall of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). These large-scale chalk drawings are based on preparatory sketches he made for his Archibald Prize winning portrait of Olley. Quilty has cast in chalk some of the objects she gave him over the years;…