Skip to main content

Robert Hughes, 1962

Louis Kahan

pen and ink on paper (sheet: 51.9 cm x 35.4 cm)

Robert Hughes AO (1938-2012), historian and critic, was one of one Australia’s best-known public intellectuals. Like many of the figures who floated around the Sydney ‘Push’ in the late 1950s, he began his career contributing poems, cartoons, criticism and articles to Honi Soit, the Observer and Nation. He began working for Time magazine in 1970, the year his The Art of Australia was published, and henceforth lived in the USA; he was the senior art critic for Time until 2001 and continued to contribute review articles to that publication for some years. His books include The Shock of the New (1980, also a television series), The Fatal Shore (1987), Nothing if Not Critical (1990), Barcelona (1992), American Visions (1997, also a television series) and A Jerk on One End (1999), the title of which refers to his love of fishing. In 1999, just after beginning to film his television series on Australia Beyond the Fatal Shore, Hughes suffered a terrible car accident on the coast of WA. The series was cobbled together during his agonising convalescence, and Hughes had little control over the final cut, but its negative reception led to his remark that for all he cared, they could ‘tow Australia out to sea and sink it’. Named the London Sunday Times Writer of the Year in 2000, he proceeded to write Goya (2003) and a superb autobiography, Things I Didn’t Know (2006).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1998

Accession number: 1998.22

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Louis Kahan (age 57 in 1962)

Robert Hughes AO (age 24 in 1962)

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.