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Charles Blackman

1928 – 2018

Charles Blackman OBE (1928-2018), artist, studied at East Sydney Technical College and worked as a press artist for the Sydney Sun before moving to Melbourne, where he came to the attention of art patron John Reed. With Reed's support, he began to produce his signature series of images, incorporating schoolgirls with flowers and Alice in Wonderland figures and motifs. He was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto (loosely, a defence of figuration against abstraction) in the early 1950s. After he won the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship in 1960, his work was shown in the important Whitechapel and Tate exhibitions in London in 1961-1962. Exhibiting prolifically throughout his career, over the 1970s he produced softer images of cats and gardens. In the early 1990s, a period during which he revisited themes of his early work, a Blackman retrospective show toured nationally. In 2004, previously unseen drawings from the collection of his erstwhile partner, Barbara Blackman, were exhibited at Eastgate and Holst, Melbourne. Charles Blackman is one very few Australian artists who has lived to see one of his paintings sell for more than a million dollars. Renowned especially for his drawing, he is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and all state galleries. The recently-opened Blackman Art Hotel in Melbourne is themed around his work.

Updated 2018