The London Years 1960-67

Art Life , Exhibitions Aug 03, 2012 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

In an April 1966 issue of U.S. TIME magazine the term ‘Swinging London’ was defined, more or less, as a phenomenon. It was the era of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of Carnaby Street and Kings Road and of changing gender roles, new trends in popular culture and revolutions in sexual behaviour. When Brett Whiteley and Wendy, not yet married, travelled to London in the early 60s, Whiteley was in his early twenties. At only 22 he’d been the youngest artist so far collected by London’s Tate Gallery. From all accounts he arrived on British shores accompanied by an air of art world expectation. A good dose of untamed larrikin charm didn’t hurt either.

During the next few years as they lived in cramped quarters in Ladbroke Grove, and later in Notting Hill, Whiteley married Wendy, had a child (Arkie) and went on to produce new work. Twenty years after Whiteley’s early death in 1992, many of these paintings remain in Wendy Whiteley’s collection. Some have not been previously seen in public. Evident in the paintings are changes inspired by the times and reflecting the artist’s preoccupations – from the sensual sweeping curves of the female form in the bath series, to the evil mind of serial murderer John Christie and the artist’s sentimental fondness for animals in the London zoo. The entire series of monoprints entitled Endlessnessism – conversations with Francis Bacon is also on display.

Until February 2013
Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills
Pic: Brett Whiteley ‘Woman in bath’ 1963 oil, paper, graphite and tempera on plywood 183 x 218cm on board
Courtesy Brett Whiteley Studio and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Sharne Wolff

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