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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.

Glenn Murcutt, 1992

Ken Done

synthetic polymer paint on canvas (frame: 156.0 cm x 117.7 cm, support: 151.5 x 115.0)

Glenn Murcutt AO (b. 1936), architect, received the world’s highest architectural honour, the Pritzker Prize, in April 2002. Having spent a good deal of his youth in New Guinea, where he learned to love simple shapes and materials, Murcutt studied at the University of New South Wales, graduating in 1961. As a student, he drew on principles he had learned while working for his father, a ‘jack of many trades’ who had a number of building businesses in Sydney after the war. Murcutt is unusual amongst Pritzker winners in that he works alone, mostly on residential homes; he has never made a skyscraper or a tourist attraction; and he uses mostly basic materials. He uses shades, louvres, fully opening walls and carefully planned ventilation to enable his buildings to respond instantly to changing conditions and requirements. His overriding design philosophy is that dwellings should ‘touch the earth lightly’. There are several books about his work, including Leaves of Iron (1991) and Touch This Earth Lightly (2000) by Philip Drew and Glenn Murcutt: Buildings + Projects 1962-2003 (2003) by Françoise Fromonot. Murcutt’s son Nick, who died in 2011, was also an architect.

Glenn Murcutt designed Ken Done’s house in Middle Harbour (Mosman) in 1990. A couple of years later, Done painted his architect. Keen for the portrait to accord with the personal style of his khaki-clad sitter (he says wryly that the top of his friend’s head reminds him of the curve of a typical Murcutt roof), the artist kept the work very simple. The details of the architect’s face are reduced to lidless and browless eyes, nose and lips; the water is reflected in his signature half-spectacles. Floating in the blue sky over his head are the sun and moon, which sit beneath the architect’s name like golden medals or seals. The painting was exhibited in the Archibald Prize in 1993 and the Powerhouse retrospective of Done’s work in 1994–1995.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2009
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Ken Done

Accession number: 2009.32

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ken Done (age 52 in 1992)

Glenn Murcutt AO (age 56 in 1992)

Subject professions

Architecture, design and fashion

Donated by

Ken Done (2 portraits)

Related information

Glenn Murcutt, 1992 Ken Done
Glenn Murcutt, 1992 Ken Done
Glenn Murcutt, 1992 Ken Done
Glenn Murcutt, 1992 Ken Done

Little Faces

Summer series: virtual program

Wed 16 Dec until Thu 17 Dec
9:30am

We will explore faces inspired by portraits from the collection using movement and music.

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Ken Done video: 3 minutes 36 seconds
Ken Done video: 3 minutes 36 seconds
Ken Done video: 3 minutes 36 seconds
Ken Done video: 3 minutes 36 seconds

Ken Done

'I am very Sydney'

Portrait story

Iconic Australian artist Ken Done discusses his life and career as a painter.

Glenn Murcutt video: 4 minutes
Glenn Murcutt video: 4 minutes
Glenn Murcutt video: 4 minutes
Glenn Murcutt video: 4 minutes

Glenn Murcutt

'Strength and delicacy'

Portrait story

Award-winning Australian architect, Glenn Murcutt describes the philosophy of his architectural practice and his minimalist portrait by Ken Done.

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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.