George Baldessin

George Baldessin

  • Artist’s Statement

    “What am I trying to express? – I think human weakness through the vulnerable figure without extracting its dignity no matter how uncertain… this is why distortion and the element of drama [are] ever present” – George Baldessin
    Printmaker and sculptor George Baldessin was born in North Italy, before moving to Australia with his family in 1949. He studied at RMIT from 1958 to 1961 and later at the Chelsea School of Art in London in 1962. He continued further study at the Brera Academy of Fine Art Milan from 1962 – 63.

    His surrealist inspired works frequently incorporated silver and gold leaf. During the 1970’s Baldessin worked in a studio in the Olderfleet building on Collins St in Melbourne with fellow artists Tate Adams, Les Kossatz, Andrew Sibley, Roger Kemp, Fred Williams and Jan Senbergs.

    Baldessin held his first solo exhibition at the Argus Gallery on the fourth floor of the old Argus newspaper building in Elizabeth Street in 1964 and completed the now iconic pears sculpture installation outside the National Gallery of Australia before his death in 1978. Memorial exhibitions were held at Realities Gallery and the National Gallery of Victoria, the later of which toured several state galleries.

    The Heide museum held a retrospective of Baldessin’s drawings in 1991 and the Art Gallery of New South Wales featured him as a focus artist in 1999. During his life Baldessin was awarded the Alcorso Sekers Travelling Scholarship for sculpture in 1966, the Maitland Prize for prints in 1967 and 1970, prizes at the Ljubljana Biennale of Printmaking in 1967 and the Second International Biennale of Drawing in Yugoslavia in 1970. He won the Geelong Print Prize in 1970 and the Comalco Invitation Award for sculpture in 1971.

    A studio and print workshop was founded at Baldessin’s studio in St Andrews, Victoria and in 1998 a Baldessin Foundation Travelling Scholarship was established for travelling sculptors.

    Baldessin’s work is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; all state galleries and regional galleries including Ballarat, Geelong, Mildura, Mornington, Sale, Warrnambool, Newcastle, Fremantle, Launceston and University collections including Melbourne University, Monash, Hobart and internationally at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2009 Australian Galleries published George Baldessin: Paradox and Persuasion, a monograph on the artist’s work.

  • Biography

    Born 1939, San Biaggio di Callalta, Italy
    1949 Emigrated to Australia
    1958-61 Diploma Fine Arts (painting), RMIT
    1962 Studies in printmaking, Chelsea Art School, London
    1963 Further studies, Brera Academy, Milan
    1964 Part-time lecturer, RMIT
    1965-66 Full-time lecturer, RMIT
    Alcorso-Sekers Travelling Scholarship for Sculpture (went to Japan) 1967 Winner: Maitland Print Prize
    1970 Winner: Second International Biennale for Dra wing, Y ugosla via Winner: Geelong Print Prize
    Shared winner: Shepparton Print Prize (with Jan Senbergs)
    1971 Comalco Invitation Award for Sculpture
    1973 Ballarat Gallery Prize
    La Trobe Valley Ronald Award
    1975 Represented Australia at Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil (with Imants Tillers)
    1976 Worked at Atelier Lacouriere et Freault etching workshop, Paris; Completed MM of
    Rue St Denis drawings in Paris
    1977 Returned to Australia
    1978 Lecturer, RMIT; Died in car accident, aged 39

    Connors, Anne; Seven Printmakers, Tasmanian School of Art Gallery, Tasmania 1976
    Cross, Elizabeth; Artists’ Objects, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne 1988
    Draffin, Nicholas; Australian Graphics, AGNSW, Sydney 1974
    Kempf, Franz; Contemporary Australian Printmakers, Lansdowne Editions, Melbourne 1976
    Klepac, Lou; Contemporary Australian Drawing, AGWA, Perth 1978
    Lindsay, Robert and Holloway, Memory; George Baldessin: Sculpture and etchings, a memorial exhibition, NGV, Melbourne 1983
    McCulloch, Alan; Selected drawings from the collections of the Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre, Mornington Peninsula Art Gallery, 1984
    McCulloch, Alan & McCulloch, Susan; The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Allen and Unwin, Sydney 1994 (and all previous editions by McCulloch, Alan)
    Mollison, James and MacKean, Margaret; Australian Prints, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1972
    Phipps, Jennifer; I had a dream: Australian art in the 1960’s , NGV, Melbourne 1997
    Ryan, Anne; George Baldessin Occasional images from a city chamber, Australian Collection Focus, Art Gallery NSW, Sydney 2000
    Scarlett, Ken; Contemporary sculpture in Australian gardens, G & B Arts International, 1993
    Scarlett, Ken; Australian sculptors, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne 1980
    Siedel, Brian; The arts in Australia, Longmans, Melbourne 1965
    Sturgeon, Graeme; Sculpture at Mildura: The story of the Mildura Sculpture Triennial 1961-1982, Mildura City Council, 1985
    Sturgeon, Graeme; The development of Australian sculpture 1788-1975, Thames and Hudson, London 1978
    Turner, Dick; European sensibilites: George Baldessin and his circle; printmaking in Melbourne during the 1960s and 1970s, Castlemaine Regional Art Gallery and Historical Museum, 2007
    The permanent collection: Bathurst Regional Gallery, Bathurst Regional Gallery 1980
    27 September 2017
    Verbeek, Anne (editor); Directory 1988: Australian artists producing prints, Print Council of Australia, 1988
    Wood, Lilian (editor), Directory of Australian Printmakers, Print Council of Australia, Melbourne 1976
    Zimmer, Jenny, & Richie, John (gen. editor); Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993
    Allen, Christopher; “Images of the body”, Sydney Review, November 1991
    “Aluminium legs walk off with $2,000 prize”, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 1966
    Baily, John; “George Baldessin”, Bulletin of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Vol 33 No 3, January 1971
    Borlase, Nancy; “We lose a complete artist”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 1978
    Campbell, Richard; “The cool breed”, Bulletin, 18 November 1972
    Catalano, Gary; “The secret Italian”, Aspect No 29/30, Autumn 1984
    Davies, Suzanne; “Occasional images from a city chamber”, Imprint No 4, 1975
    Dolan, David; “Baldessin the professional”, Advertiser, Adelaide, 19 August 1978
    Eagle, Mary; “Tribute to a winner”, Age, Melbourne, 6 November 1978
    Galbally, Ann; “Familiar threshold for a top sculptor”, Age, Melbourne, 15 December 1972
    Galbally, Ann; “Enigma of the brooding mysterious figures”, Age, Melbourne, 11 November 1970 Gleeson, James; “Earle treads a different path”, Sun, Sydney, 30 September 1970
    Gleeson, James; “Smoke signals”, Sun, Sydney, 26 July 1966
    Hannan, Bill; “Sculptors good second-rater?” Bulletin, Sydney, 13 November 1965
    Hocking, Ian; “An artist in female guise”, News, Adelaide, 26 April 1978
    “Interview by George Baldessin”, Art Craft Teachers Associations Magazine, Melbourne, November 1973
    “Is this decent? Sexy girl at open window”, Sun, Sydney, 26 July 1966
    Jach, Antoni; “George’s important obscurity”, Melbourne Times, 31 August 1983
    Langer, Gertrude; “Two shows are tops”, Courier Mail, Brisbane, 1 October 1977
    “Long live memories of the new”, Sun, Melbourne, 17 August 1983
    “Lost for words about a winner”, Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 26 July 1968
    Lynn, Elwyn; “Popularity without compromise – seriously”, Weekend Australian, 26-27 October 1991
    Lynn, Elwyn; “Triumphant first show”, Australian, Sydney, 13 November 1965
    McCaughey, Patrick; “Superb etchings from Baldessin”, Age, Melbourne, 22 November 1972 McCaughey, Patrick; “Disconcerting and surprising”, Age, Melbourne, 23 October 1971
    McCaughey, Patrick; “The graphic work of George Baldessin”, Art and Australia, Vol 7 No 2, September 1969
    McCaughey, Patrick; “After the art boom”, Age, Melbourne, 10 July 1967
    McCaughey, Patrick; “Paintings that bounce off the wall”, Age, Melbourne, 10 May 1967
    McCulloch, Alan; “Death of George Baldessin”, Art and Australia, Vol 16 No 3, Autumn 1979 McCulloch, Alan; “Mildura’s Boston Tea Party”, Herald, Melbourne, 22 April 1964
    McCulloch, Alan; “Sculptor’s impressive debut”, Herald, Melbourne, 17 June 1964
    McGrath, Sandra; “Baldessin: a genuine Renaissance man”, Weekend Australian, 19-20 August 1978 McGrath, Sandra; “Wonderful fantasy”, Australian, Sydney, 11 November 1972
    Millar, Ronald; “A final tribute”, Herald, Melbourne, 11 August 1983
    Plant, Margaret; “The encounter of Baldessin and Tillers on an etching plate: According to des Esseintes”, Art Bulletin of Victoria, No 22, 1982
    Plant, Margaret; “Melbourne Printmakers”, Art Bulletin of Victoria, Melbourne, 1973/74
    Plant, Margaret; “Etchings by Baldessin”, Imprint, Melbourne No 3, 1969
    Pidgeon, W. E.; “A taste for the sinister”, Sunday Telegraph, Sydney, 28 August 1977
    Rooney, Robert; “Warmth lost in ‘cool’ quest”, Weekend Australian, Sydney, 6-7 April 1991 Rooney, Robert; “Baldessin tribute in perspective”, Weekend Australian, Sydney, 27-28 August 1983 Smith, Bernard; “Baldessin sculpture a welcome change”, Age, 17 June 1964
    Taylor, Paul (editor); “Anything goes: Art in Australia 1970-1980”, Art and Text, Melbourne, 1984 Thomas, Daniel; “Tillers and Baldessin for Sao Paulo”, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 1975
    Wallace, Thornton; “Baldessin show at Rudy Komon”, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 1965
    27 September 2017
    Warren, Alan; “Bold adventure in art at Mildura”, Sun, 20 April 1964 Waterlow, Nick; “Art: Global crayons”, Nation Review, 1 September 1977
    27 September 2017

  • Exhibitions

    2014 ‘Being Human: The graphic work of George Baldessin’, Heidi Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
    2010 ‘Paintings, sculpture and etchings', Australian Galleries, Derby Street, Melbourne 2009-10 ‘George Baldessin’, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria
    2006 ‘Portraits and Performers’, Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Sydney
    2004 ‘George Baldessin – Prints of Darkness’, Australian Galleries Works on Paper,
    2003 ‘George Baldessin 1939-1978’, La Trobe Regional Gallery
    2001 ‘George Baldessin – drawings, sculpture, etchings’, Australian Galleries Works on
    Paper, Melbourne and Sydney
    2000 ‘George Baldessin – Occasional Images from a City Chamber 1975, Australian
    Collection Focus’, Art Gallery of New South Wales
    1998 ‘George Baldessin Estate Prints 1963 – 1978’, Brisbane
    1997 ‘George Baldessin Estate Prints 1963 – 1978’, Australian Galleries, Melbourne and
    1992 ‘George Baldessin Prints and Drawings’, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
    ‘Etchings Prints 1963 – 1978’, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
    1991 ‘Drawings and selected sculpture’, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney
    ‘Exhibition of drawings’, T olarno Galleries, Melbourne
    ‘An exhibition of drawings’, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne 1987 ‘Selected prints and bronzes’, Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne 1983 ‘George Baldessin Retrospective’, Wollongong City Gallery, NSW
    ‘Etchings’, Stuart Gerstman Galleries, Melbourne
    ‘George Baldessin: Sculpture and etchings – a memorial exhibition’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
    1978 ‘Personages, remnants and discards’, Bonython Gallery, Adelaide
    27 September 2017
    1977 ‘M M of Rue St Denis’, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane ‘Etchings’, Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane
    ‘M M of Rue St Denis’ (drawings), Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney 1974 ‘Etchings’, Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney
    ‘George Baldessin: Complete etchings’, Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre, Victoria
    ‘Etchings’, Festival of Perth, Desborough Galleries, Perth 1972 (Etchings), Crossley Gallery, Melbourne
    ‘Sculpture 1971-72’ Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney 1971 ‘Drawings and sculpture’, Ballarat Art Gallery, Victoria 1970 ‘Etchings’, Gallery One Eleven, Brisbane
    (Etchings), Crossley Gallery, Melbourne
    ‘Sculpture’, Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney
    1967 ‘Exhibition of prints by George Baldessin’, Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria 1965 ‘Drawings, sculpture and etchings’, Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney 1964 ‘Sculpture, etchings and drawings’, Argus Gallery, Melbourne
    2017 ‘Sculpture: medium and small sculpture – Mixed Sculptors’, Australian Galleries, Sydney
    2015 ‘An exhibition of paintings, sculpture & works on paper’, Australian Galleries, Roylston Street, Sydney
    2014 ‘one of each’, Australian Galleries, Derby Street, Melbourne
    ‘Australia Day 2014 Celebratory Exhibition’, Australian Galleries, Derby Street, Melbourne
    2013 ‘Works from the Stock Rooms’, Australian Galleries, Smith Street, Melbourne 2011 ‘large exhibition of small works’, Australian Galleries, Roylston Street, Sydney
    ‘large exhibition of small works’, Australian Galleries, Derby Street, Melbourne 2010 ‘Artists’ Prints made with Integrity I’, Australian Galleries, Smith Street, Melbourne 2008 ‘Summer Stock Show’, Australian Galleries Smith Street, Melbourne
    2007 ‘Summer Stock Show’, Australian Galleries Painting and Sculpture, Melbourne
    ‘Summer Stock Show’, Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Sydney
    ‘European sensibilities: Baldessin and his circle’, Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, Castlemaine
    ‘The story of Australian Printmaking; 1801-2005’, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
    2006 ‘50th Anniversary Exhibition’, 5th June, Australian Galleries, Melbourne
    ‘Fine Australian Prints and Drawings’, Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Melbourne
    2005 ‘A selection of works on paper’, Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Melbourne 2003 ‘Pen to Pixel: 200 years of Australian Prints & Drawings’, NGV Australia, Ian Potter
    Centre, Melbourne
    ‘Sculpture at RMIT during the Jomantas years’, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
    ‘This was the future...Australian sculpture of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s + today’, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
    1997 ‘I had a dream: Australian art in the 1960’s’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 1996 ‘Occasional screens with seating arrangement, Grahame Sturgeon Memorial Trust’,
    Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne
    1995 ‘Rites for an Anxious Spring, selected acquisitions 1981-1995’, Museum of Modern
    Art at Heide, Melbourne
    1978 ‘A tribute to George Baldessin’, Realities, Melbourne
    ‘Contemporary Australian Drawing’, Perth Survey of Drawing, Festival of Perth, Art
    Gallery of Western Australia and touring
    1975-76 ‘Australian Graphics 1974’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
    (organised VAB touring South America 1975)

Showing all 11 artworks

  • George Baldessin

    Two Aspects of Mm, 1977
    90 x 60 cm Etching and aquatint on paper
  • George Baldessin

    Personage, Windows and Books, 1974
    74.5 x 50 cm Etching on paper
  • George Baldessin

    Personage and Blinds, 1973
    45.5 x 49 cm Etching and aquatint on paper
  • George Baldessin

    The Bather, 1978
    57 x 57 cm lithograph
  • George Baldessin

    Figure in Enclosure, 1964
    Height: 43 cm Bronze
  • George Baldessin

    Untitled (9), 1965
    27 x 18 cm Framed: 51 x 42 cm Etching and aquatint on paper
  • George Baldessin

    Neighbours, 1964
    24 x 31 cm Framed: 39 x 49 cm Etching and aquatint on paper
  • George Baldessin

    Untitled, 1964
    21 x 31 cm Framed: 39 x 49 cm Etching and aquatint on paper
  • George Baldessin

    Performer, 1968
    37.5 x 50 cm Colour etching and aquatint on paper Sold
  • George Baldessin

    Personage and Entrances, 1974
    121 x 125 cm Etching and aquatint (2 parts)
  • George Baldessin

    Performers, 1974
    60 x 75 cm etching