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Lot #22 - Bill Henson

  • Auction House:
  • Sale Name:
    The John Buckley Collection of Modern & Contemporary Australian Art
  • Sale Date:
    13 May 2014 ~ 6.30pm
  • Lot #:
  • Lot Description:
    Bill Henson
    (born 1955)
    Untitled (Nude) 1983/84
    type-c photograph (triptych) 2/10
    76 x 63 cm (each)
  • Provenance:
    Purchased from the artist
  • Notes:
    With the series of photographs 'Untitled 1983/84', Bill Henson's visual vocabulary went through a stage of permanent recalibration. In the 1970s he was producing black and white images of city folk in congested walkways, reminiscent of the impersonal and harsh atmosphere in John Brack's Collins Street, 5PM (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne). In the later 1983/84 series, Henson introduced colour for the first time in his images. The soft tones and monochromes imbued the stills with a dreamlike quality, transporting the images into a dimension of the uncanny - this remains equally true of the photographs of Old Master paintings, as well as for portraits. These beautiful yet troubling portraits of naked teenage junkies, covered in dirt, are in some instances, juxtaposed with seemingly incongruous fugitive baroque interiors. On this disjunction, David Malouf writes we 'learn how to read 'musically', according to the rhythms Henson establishes by linking his pictures in sets ... pay attention to the musical pauses the gaps make, then leap across them. These gaps, often enough, are gaps in time as well as in space - some of them as long as the centuries between now and the baroque...'1. Comparing, and differentiating, Hensons's nudes from the 'Untitled 1983/84' series to the works of photographers Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, Dennis Cooper noted how 'Henson's figures were approached with such unreserved empathy and preserved with such an artfully impersonal, elegant visual lustre that they become strangely interchangeable with their lavish architectural counterparts'2. There are two important art historical precedents related to the nude in the current work. The first being Gustave Courbet's 1866 l'Origine du monde (MusŽe d'Orsay, Paris) originally a private commission; and secondly, Marcel Duchamp's 1946-66 ƒtant donnŽs (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia). Like these two prototypes, there is no eye contact made with the figure - the head of the nude is barely visible. The naked girl is unaware of our presence, and thus the viewer, like in Courbet and Duchamp, becomes a silent witness, intruder and voyeur into an unearthly world. 1 David Malouf, Bill Henson: Photographs 1974-84, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne, 1989, p. 6 2 Dennis Cooper, 'Naked Youth: The Photography of Bill Henson', Bill Henson, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, 2003, p. 9
  • Estimate:
    A$12,000 - 18,000
  • Realised Price:

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  • Category:

This Sale has been held and this item is no longer available. Details are provided for information purposes only.

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