Brett Whiteley, an icon in the Australian art scene, was a multi-award-winning artist whose career spanned several decades and continents. Known for his prowess in painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts, Whiteley’s work is characterized by its sensuality and lyrical interpretations of interiors, nudes, and mesmerizing harbor scenes.
Born in Sydney, Whiteley’s artistic journey began with life-drawing classes at the Julian Ashton Art School and encounters with influential artists like Lloyd Rees. His international acclaim took flight when he was awarded the Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship in 1959, leading to a decade-long artistic sojourn across Europe and the United States, where he mingled with luminaries like Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan.
Returning to Sydney in 1969, Whiteley settled in Lavender Bay and became a vital part of the Yellow House artists’ collective in Kings Cross. His larger-than-life, brilliantly coloured artworks, influenced by the likes of Henri Matisse, became highly sought after by collectors. Whiteley’s artistic prowess was further acknowledged with multiple Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes, and he was the first artist to win all three in a single year in 1978.
This exhibition at West End Art Space features a curated selection of Whiteley’s works from 1961 to 1988, offering a glimpse into the artist’s tumultuous life during that period. Majority of the works were created in the mid 70s to mid 80s, a celebrated time for the artist. In 1976 he won both the Archibald Prize for portraiture and the Sulman Prize for genre painting and, the following year, the Wynne Prize for landscape. He won all three prizes in 1978 (the first artist to do so) and the Wynne a third time in 1984. In 1991 he was awarded an Order of Australia.
One of the recurring themes in Whiteley’s oeuvre is the celebration of the nude female form, explored across various mediums, including printmaking. His lithographs beautifully capture the sensuous lines of the nude, accentuating his admiration for the flattening of perspective. One of the most breathtaking aspects of Whiteley’s career was his ability to capture the ever- changing moods of Sydney Harbor, as evidenced in his iconic work, ‘Lavender Bay in the Rain’, 1987. Another theme in the collection is Whiteley’s affinity for birds. From meticulous studies to abstract interpretations, his love for these creatures was ever-present.
All artworks are for sale, presenting a very unqiue opportunity for any keen collectors to aquire one of these very special pieces.