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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.

John Olsen - En plein air

1996
Greg Weight

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image: 35.6 cm x 45.6 cm, sheet: 40.4 cm x 50.4 cm)

John Olsen AO OBE (b. 1928), painter, is one of the major figures in twentieth-century Australian art. A member of the group of students of John Passmore known as the Contemporary Art Society, he held his first exhibition in 1955, around the time that he and his friend Robert Klippel were trying to ‘paint of the bloodstream’ – to commit to the act of painting as a total experience, a totality of random sensations. The pair’s 1956 exhibition launched abstract expressionism on the Sydney art scene. Olsen was hailed as a master immediately, and in 1957 a Sydney businessman paid him to go to Majorca to paint. Returning to Sydney in 1960, he cemented his reputation with a series of views of Sydney Harbour and the You Beaut Country series. Over the 1980s and 1990s Olsen’s work became increasingly meditative, as he explored ways to express ‘a certain mystical throbbing throughout nature’. He won the Archibald Prize with the scratchy, abstract Self-portrait, Janus-faced in 2005. Greg Weight photographed him in the country near Rydal, in the Bathurst region, where he lived in the 1990s and painted a great deal in the open air.

Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Gregory Weight/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Greg Weight (age 50 in 1996)

John Olsen AO CBE (age 68 in 1996)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Patrick Corrigan AM (123 portraits)

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.

Marilyn Darling AC
Marilyn Darling AC
Marilyn Darling AC
Marilyn Darling AC

Support Crew

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2011

Portraits of philanthropists in the collection honour their contributions to Australia and acknowledge their support of the National Portrait Gallery.

John Coburn
John Coburn
John Coburn
John Coburn

101 photographic portraits

Magazine article by Michelle Fracaro, 2004

Pat Corrigan's generous gift of 100 photographic portraits by Greg Weight.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency