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Lot #62 - Charles Blackman

  • Auction House:
  • Sale Name:
    The Lowenstein Collection of Modern & Contemporary Australian Art
  • Sale Date:
    07 Mar 2017 ~ 6pm
  • Lot #:
  • Lot Description:
    Charles Blackman
    (born 1928)
    Women Lovers, circa 1980
    oil on paper on board
    72.5 x 96.5 cm
    titled verso: WOMAN LOVERS; signed lower left: BLACKMAN
  • References:
    Sasha Grishin, Accounting for Taste: the Lowensteins Arts Management Collection, Macmillan Art Publishing, Melbourne, 2013, p. 12 (illustrated)
  • Notes:
    Charles Blackman has gathered considerable regard as a formative, and imaginative painter in Australian art. He was equally renowned for his love of literature, women and wine. These pursuits coloured his life as much as his paintings. The poem The Ballad of Charles Blackman (to be recited live at a drunken party in 1961); written by close friend Barry Humphries, illustrates the evocative, intimate moods of Blackman’s character and paintings alike; ’What manner then of man is this Whose light winks in the world’s abyss? … Blackman takes us under the bed cloths Where slowly we descry the shapes Of hands and noses, hats and napes. Fingers and flowers, hanks of hair, Caught in a subterranean flare-‘1 Charles Blackman had established himself as a master of Modern figurative art. As declared by James Gleeson in a 1969 review, ‘He is possibly the most monumental of all our painters, and at the same time he is the most intimate and the most lyrical.’2 Throughout his extensive career, he has playfully pursued his youthful search to reveal the “mystery of feelings”.3 He reflected his life in his paintings, yet retold it through the world of his imagination and ‘dissolved the barrier between reality and dream by surrounding himself with youth and beauty.’4 In the course of five years during which Women Lovers, 1980 was created (1978 to 1983), Blackman experienced great personal turbulence succeeded by an artistic renaissance. Blackman’s first wife and muse Barbara, had concluded their marriage of 28 years. Charles on the eve of his fiftieth year began a romantic affair with and later married Genevieve De Couvreur (then nineteen-year-old art student and house sitter for the Blackman’s Paddington family home). In 1980 – after two prolific years in which time he created a number of highly significant works – Charles moved to Buderim where he established a studio refuge surrounded by a resplendent rainforest backdrop nicknamed The Garden of Eden, with ‘Genevieve occasionally serving as a model for virginal nudes’.5 New avenues of imagination prospered with the arrival of his bright and free-spirited love. Genevieve ‘…was a beautiful, sensual young woman, an artist herself with a supreme sense of aesthetics… Charles had a romantic rebirth and did gorgeous, deeply sensitive paintings.’6 Barry Robertson succinctly describes the allure of Blackman’s figures; ‘Part of their essential character springs from the interaction, marvellously developed and sustained, between the tenderness and grace of the personages contained in the paintings… The paintings show their own synthesis, supercharge, between romantic vision and classical compression of form.’7 Women Lovers, circa 1980 is a sumptuous piece from late in the artist’s oeuvre. The painted style and mood in which the figures have been captured is in harmony with Blackmans nature, celebrating youthful innocence coupled with delicate femininity. This sense of feeling is rendered by the strong contrasts of light and dark, saturated colours and fleeting brushstrokes. Illuminated by a solitary candescent light, two women embrace in sleep. Their companion and voyeur, the matted black cat (representing artist and spectre) alludes detection from the dreaming couple who lie in blissful reverie. ‘His paintings are a record of love – not of the physical passion, but of love in the richest, fullest sense – the sense in which the mind, spirit and body are totally involved.’8 The present work with its abundance of feeling, is a fine example of an artist who has lived, loved and painted with his heart on his sleeve. Sarah Garrecht 1 Barry Humphries, The Ballad of Charles Blackman (Written to be recited live at a drunken party in 1961) 2 James Gleeson, Master of the figurative, The Sun, 9 July 1969, p. 47 3 Charles Blackman in an interview with Peter Ross, June 1989. 4 Felicity St John Moore, Charles Blackman, Schoolgirls and Angels, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1993, p. 9 5 Ibid, p. 27 6 Janet Hawley, Artists in Conversation, Charles Blackman, A Romantic Love, The Slattery Media Group, Victoria, p. 282 7 Bryan Robertson, Paintings and Drawings, Charles Blackman, 3-25 November 1961, The Matthiesen Gallery, London, Preface (pamphlet) 8 James Gleeson, Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Lansdowne Press Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 1969, p. 142
  • Estimate:
    A$45,000 - 55,000
  • 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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