Abstract Australis
Abstract Australis
Brighton, Victoria 3186 Australia
Ph: 0407 501 808
ABN: 66 086 690 771
[email protected]

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Charles BLACKMAN O.B.E. (b.1928; D.2018)

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Charles Blackman is famous for his Alice in Wonderland and Schoolgirl series and his haunting images of sad girls and women, often absorbed in day dreams, oblivious to reality or detached from their surroundings. His unique approach was inspired by poet Barbara Patterson, who became Blackman's wife in 1951.  

She had poor sight, and relied on Blackman to be her “eyes.”  This sharpened his own observational skills, leading him to focus on the face. His figures invariably have large, expressive and often dark eyes. 

Blackman was born in Sydney on 12 August 1928, left school at 13, and worked with the Sydney Sun while attending night classes for drawing at East Sydney Technical College. In the 40s he met Lois Hunter, a New Zealand poet who introduced him to the work of writers and artists such as Arthur Rimbaud and T.S. Eliot.  

Blackman moved to Melbourne in 1950 and later became a member of the Antipodeans, a group of seven artists reacting against the advance of abstract expressionism and non-figurative art. 

Numerous awards and solo exhibitions in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, London and Tokyo followed, including a major retrospective, Schoolgirls and Angels, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1993. In 1997 Blackman was awarded an OBE, underlining his position in Australian contemporary art.  

But Blackman developed a cynical view about the business side of the game, saying it did not have much to do with money unless you were “an art dealer, bank manager or crook.” Having given away or sold most of his best paintings for little, he filled his home with his works, but only copies, dryly remarking he was “too poor to afford an original Blackman…”


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