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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

digital animation, colour, with sound, duration 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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned 2008

Accession number: 2009.22

Currently not on display

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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), 1982 Paul Worstead
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill), 1982 Paul Worstead
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill), 1982 Paul Worstead
Creatures of Leisure series (David 'Bird' Twohill), 1982 Paul Worstead

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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.