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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.

Robyn Archer

1990
George Gittoes AM

oil on canvas (frame: 146.5 cm x 137.3 cm, support: 134.5 cm x 126.5 cm)

Robyn Archer AO (b. 1948), performer, writer and director, became a star with her shows, Kold Komfort Kaffee (1978), The Conquest of Carmen Miranda (1978) and Tonight: Lola Blau (1979), for all of which she wrote the songs and performed. Her hit one-woman show A Star is Torn (1979–1983) toured Australia and ran for a year in London's West End. She is internationally renowned for her interpretations of classic European cabaret and won the Helpmann Award for Best Cabaret Performer 2013. In the 1990s she began her distinguished career as director of various artistic festivals, which have included the National Festival of Australian Theatre, the Adelaide Festival and the Melbourne Festival; she initiated the Tasmanian festival, Ten Days on the Island, and Melbourne's The Light in Winter, and was the Artistic Director of the Centenary of Canberra. In 2021 Archer performed Mother Archer's Cabaret for Dark Times in Hobart, Melbourne and Adelaide, and released her eleventh album Classic Cabaret Rarities.

George Gittoes' portrait is a striking representation of Archer that alludes to her cabaret performances and the inspiration provided by the political satire of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Gittoes has evoked the drama of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s by incorporating the words 'A Pre War Portrait' and a fiery devil creature.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Robyn Archer AO 2012
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© George Gittoes/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

George Gittoes AM (age 41 in 1990)

Robyn Archer AO (age 42 in 1990)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Robyn Archer AO (1 portrait)

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.

Love City; George Gittoes on hilltop 2013
Love City; George Gittoes on hilltop 2013
Love City; George Gittoes on hilltop 2013
Love City; George Gittoes on hilltop 2013

Man of war

Magazine article by Tedi Bills, 2016

Tedi Bills talks to George Gittoes about canvassing conflict.

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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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