Brett Whiteley Australian Artist
- Author: Ashleigh Wilson
- Title: Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing
- Genre: biography
- Reading time: 13 hours 25 min (audio book)
- Published: 2017
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- Trivia: #ABIA 2017 short list (Australian Book Industry Awards)
- Of all the Australian painters who emerged during the mid
- 20th century Brett Whiteley was the (Wikipedia link for more info)
- most mercurial, the most ambitious
- to make an impact on the world at large.
- I had NEVER heard of Brett Whiteley
- …and realize it was my loss.
- Delighted to discover this brilliant
- biography by Ashleigh Wilson.
- Born in Australia, Whiteley moved to Europe in 1960 determined to make an impression.
- Before long he was the youngest artist to have work acquired by the Tate.
- With his wife, Wendy (1941), and daughter, Arkie (1964-2001), Whiteley
- then immersed himself in bohemian New York.
- Despite many affairs…Brett proclaims that
- he and his wife Wendy “We’re lifers.”
- His art depended on his relationship to Wendy.
- It had been that way since his early abstractions.
- He has been a journalist for almost two decades.
- He received a Walkley Award for his reports on unethical behavior
- in the Aboriginal art industry, a series that led to a Senate inquiry.
- He has been The Australian’s Arts Editor since 2011.
- Wilson follows the chronological order of Whiteley’s paintings:
- Early works
Bathroom series (sensual sketches of Wendy)
John Christie (serial killer) & London Zoo
Lavender Bay, Australia
The studio & late works
- Brett Whiteley (1939 – 1992)
- died from a drug overdose.
- He was an heroin addict.
- The deeper problem was that his
- dependency was entwined with his art.
- Like many addicts he found it hard to imagine life sober.
- Heroin provided stability...
- …and to live without it was like to peering into darkness.
- It was one thing to be clean for his health
- …but what would it mean for his art?
- He was found dead at the Beach Motel, Thirroul Australia.
- This expansive biography
- Wilson gave the essential details about the death. (ch 22)
- Chapters 1-21 concentrate on the
- …richness and variety of Whiteley’s work
- …and the many exhibitions he held and prizes won.
- Worth your reading time!
- Ashleigh Wilson Wilson takes the reader through a
- virtual art gallery describing and assortiment
- …of Brett Whiteley’s paintings.
Portrait of Patrick White (Brett Whiteley)
- Photo in frame….Emmanuel George “Manoly” Lascaris
- Look at White’s eyes and
- ….Centennial Park in the backround.
Portrait Vincent van Gogh
- On the table….a candle, a pipe, a letter to Theo and a razor.
- Two arrows:
- towards the right = good, light and sanity
- towards the left = evil, darkness and madness
Portrait of Gauguin
- Gaughin on the eve of his attempted suicide
- We see ‘The Tree of Knowledge, photograph of Van Gogh and a woman’s body.
- Brett had extended the right side to an ear shape with a bottle with a white substance
- labled ‘Arsenic’.
Portrait Wendy (wife)
- Brett Whiteley was a master draughtsman.
- This sketch reveals his command of line.
- The way Brett could capture the essence of his
- subject with only a few simple sweeps.
- This is Brett Whiteley’s debt to Matisse.
- He painted the interior of Lavender Bay where the
- …water can be seen through the window
- …frame at the end of the room beyond the arches.
- It is a domestic workmanlike scene.
- Two legs on the couch and used matches
- …are scattered on the coffee table.
- There is a vase and notebook on which is written the title of the painting.
- As in the works of his historical model, Matisse,
- ….there are notes of domesticity:
- bed, open fire, and several works of Whiteley in the room
- …a sculpture, a nude drawing and an erotic drawing.
- There is a deep red brown color in the house
- …but the blue is all around.
- This was the most expensive painting in Brett’s
- September 1976 Australian Galleries exhibition.
- This painting’s was priced for 10.000 dollars.
- This was a companion piece for “Henri’s Armchair”.
- The blue soaked canvas inside Brett’s studio including
- pictures (B/W = ‘Inside an Avocado Tree’), sculptures
- …a view out to the Sydney Harbour and the chair in which
- …he sat to reflect on the art around him.
Another way of Looking….Vincent
- Whiteley pays homage to Vincent van Gogh and
- …the profound influence this Dutch post-impressionist
- painter had on Whiteley throughout his career.
- I had to include some of the most beautiful sketches/paintings of birds!
- Whiteley first came to notice the captivating beauty of birds
- …in July 1969 during a blissful five-month stay in a small cottage
- in the village of Navutulevu, about eighty kilometres from Suva in Fiji.
- The couple, with their five year-old daughter Arkie,
- lived simply and happily and enjoyed their
- island paradise after the turmoil and bustle of New York.
- Wendy Whiteley summed the period up well: ‘We really did live in Paradise there.”
The sunrise, Japanese: Good morning
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