'I remember my Australian theme started properly only after I’d been away in Europe five years. The Australian images started forcing themselves on me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I began my first series of Australiana – the land images. Later the human factor became involved, and that’s when I started my explorer figure. Now the land and the figure merge easily into one genuine Australian image.'
Artist, Born 1914, Melbourne Vic, Died 1999.
Albert Tucker is one of the most important Australian artists from the decades following the Second World War, responsible for reinvigorating and re-mythologising the Australian landscape through an uncompromising modernist approach. He belonged to the Angry Penguins group of artists active at Heide in the 1940s.
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Albert Tucker was born in Melbourne in 1914. In 1947 he travelled to Japan where he saw the devastation of Hiroshima - it was an experience that would have a profound effect on his work. Tucker spent 13 years in Europe and his international career finally took off when the Guggenheim Museum purchased some of his work and the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted an exhibition. During the 1960s he began to enjoy popularity at home. All major Australian galleries acquired his work and a 1990 retrospective drew over 90,000 visitors. He was interviewed for Film Australia's Australian Biography series in 1994.
Tucker's main inspirations include post-impressionists, expressionists and social realists, as well as personal experience. Tucker's work was strongly influenced by the realistic reflections of two important émigré artists, Josl Bergner and Danila Vassilieff, who arrived in Melbourne in the late 1930s about the same time that Tucker began to explore images of the Great Depression. Tucker also met Sunday and John Reed, members of the Contemporary Art Society, which was set up in 1938 by George Bell, in opposition to the government Australian Academy of Art, which was believed to promote conservative art and not the modernists.
Albert Tucker was exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 1956 before going to London for 2 years and painting the Thames Series. Winning the Australian Women's Weekly competition enabled him to spend two years in New York where he painted the Manhatten Series and Antipodean Heads. In 1960 MOMA Australia awarded him the Kurt Geiger Award which paid his fare home and for his first solo exhibition in Australia.
Tucker is recognised as one of Australia's most prominant and successful artists. His work is represented in the Australian National Collection and all State Galleries as well as the Guggenheim Museum and MOMA, New York, and in Mexico. He won the Australian Women's Weekly Prize in 1959. He produces work in most media although paintings dominate the market
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