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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.

Bruce Petty

2008
Bruce Petty

single channel digital animation, colour, sound, 2 minutes, 19 seconds

Bruce Petty (b. 1929), cartoonist, animator and filmmaker, is the only Australian to have won an Academy Award for an animated film. After beginning his career in animation in 1949, between 1955 and 1960 he worked freelance overseas as a cartoonist and illustrator, seeing his work published in magazines including Punch and the New Yorker. A trip he took in the early 1960s gave rise to the first of his many published compilations, An Australian Artist in South East Asia. In 1965 he began his long career as resident cartoonist for the Australian newspaper. In 1972 he made his first animated films, Australian History and A Big Hand for Everyone, the latter a short critique of mass media blending animation, kinetic sculpture, film clips and acted segments. The short Leisure (1976) won him his Oscar in 1977. Following on from his 1997 book The Absurd Machine: A Cartoon History of the World, in 2002 he produced Human Contraptions, a series of ten short films on the evolution of institutions such as the law, education, finance and art. His most recent film is Global Haywire (2006), combining animation with documentary satire. His sculptures include the Creativity Beam (1988) for the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, and since 1997 he has made more than 60 etchings and drypoints.

Commissioned 2008
© Commonwealth of Australia

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

Bruce Petty (age 79 in 2008)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Frame from Self portrait, 2008
Frame from Self portrait, 2008
Frame from Self portrait, 2008
Frame from Self portrait, 2008

I walk the line

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2009

Bruce Petty's animated self portrait captures a life's journey compressed into a few minutes.

Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill)
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill)
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill)
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill)

Electric!

Portraits that pop!

Previous exhibition, 2018

Celebrate the Gallery’s 20th birthday summer with Electric! Portraits that pop! The collection exhibition features a mix of bright, bold and colourful paintings, prints and photographs, and buoyant video portraits.

© 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.

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