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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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Gregory Weight/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2004.119

Currently not on display

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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, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka

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, 1987 Greg Weight
John Coburn, 1987 Greg Weight
John Coburn, 1987 Greg Weight
John Coburn, 1987 Greg Weight

101 photographic portraits

Magazine article by Michelle Fracaro, 2004

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

Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes
Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes
Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes
Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes

Open Air

Portraits in the Landscape

Previous exhibition, 2008

Open Air is an exhibition of portraits of Australians in environments of particular significance to them.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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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 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.