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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Robert Helpmann

1969
David Moore

montage of gelatin silver photographs on paper (sheet (irregular): 31.5 cm x 93.0 cm, frame: 57.0 cm x 116.0 cm)

Sir Robert Helpmann CBE (1909-1986) was a dancer, actor and choreographer. The son of a sheep farmer and a frustrated actress, Helpmann grew up in Mount Gambier, South Australia. At the age of 11 he made his stage debut, dressed in a tutu, at a charity concert in front of Dame Nellie Melba. Soon after he joined Anna Pavlova's touring company and went to England where by 1934 he was lead male dancer at the Vic-Wells ballet (later Sadler's Wells). There, he formed a celebrated partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn. Renowned for his dramatic and innovative ballet choreography, Helpmann was artistic co-director of the Australian Ballet from 1965 to 1976; during this period, in 1965, he was Australian of the Year. He appeared in twelve films, including The Red Shoes, which he also choreographed. Renowned for flamboyance and wit, he was still dancing two months before his death in the role of the Red King in Checkmate. This collage, originally assembled for the art book In the Making, resulted from David Moore's short sitting with Helpmann in his Sydney hotel room. The cramped space limited Moore's creative options, so he took these silhouettes against the window.

Australian of the Year 1965

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1998
© Lisa, Michael, Matthew and Joshua Moore
http://davidmoorephotography.com.au/

Artist and subject

David Moore (age 42 in 1969)

Sir Robert Helpmann CBE (age 60 in 1969)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Painting mates

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2011

Michael Desmond discusses Fred Williams' portraits of friends, artist Clifton Pugh, David Aspden and writer Stephen Murray-Smith, and the stylistic connections between his portraits and landscapes.

Cultural kaleidoscope

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

The complex connections between four creative Australians; Patrick White, Sidney Nolan, Robert Helpmann and Peter Sculthorpe.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency