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ON DISPLAY

Neville Gruzman
, 1968

by Eric Smith

oil on masonite (frame: 185.0 cm x 111.0 cm, support: 182.5 cm x 108.5 cm)

Neville Gruzman AM (1925–2005), architect and lecturer, was born in Sydney, the son of immigrants of Russian heritage. Schooled at Sydney Boys’ High, he initially intended to study medicine, but enrolled in architecture and town planning instead, graduating from at the University of Sydney in 1952 having studied under tutors such as George Molnar and Lloyd Rees. That year, he built his first house on the waterfront at Rose Bay; his own house at Darling Point was completed in 1958. From the late 1950s onward Gruzman's architectural practice went hand in hand with his propensity for litigation; he initiated some 30 cases in 40 years (conversely, he was hospitalised some 40 times in 30 years). He was renowned for criticising the work of other architects, especially Harry Seidler, but his supporters praised his determination to raise the standard of Sydney's built environment. From the 1960s through to 2003 Gruzman was an adjunct professor of architecture and sessional teacher at the University of New South Wales, and he served a confrontational term as Mayor of Woollahra in 1996.

Eric Smith trained in art in Melbourne before serving in the army during World War 2. After the war, he recommenced study at RMIT under the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Training Scheme. He won the Blake Prize for religious art six times between 1956 and 1970, and the Sulman Prize in 1953, 1973 and 2003. He first entered the Archibald Prize with a strong self portrait in 1944; he won the Prize in 1970, 1981 and 1982 with portraits of Neville Gruzman, Rudi Komon and Peter Sculthorpe respectively. He won the Wynne Prize in 1974. He is represented in the National Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Queensland Art Gallery as well as several regional galleries. The National Portrait Gallery acquired his portrait of Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE in 2004.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2007
Accession number: 2007.9