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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.

Carl Cooper, 1945-46

Arthur Boyd

oil on canvas laid on masonite (frame: 84.0 cm x 72.5 cm, support: 74.5 cm x 63.0 cm)

Carl Cooper (1912-1966) was a ceramic decorator associated with the influential Boyd family. In the mid-1940s, he worked with Merric Boyd and John Perceval at AMB pottery, near the Boyd family home and studios ‘Open Country’ in Murrumbeena, just outside Melbourne. Cooper’s earthenware pieces were incised or painted in designs often influenced by Aboriginal bark paintings. Each day, Arthur Boyd’s brother David would push Cooper’s wheelchair to the pottery, Cooper having lost the use of his legs from poliomyelitis contracted in his twenties. A turbulent force within this prolific creative community, Arthur Boyd recollected Cooper as a ‘dissatisfied, fierce, crushed’ figure; ‘he’d have terrible fights with people . . . throw things and lash out at anyone.’ This psychologically intense portrait rigidly set against a dark sky conveys Cooper’s deep mental and physical discomfort. Cooper eventually set up his own studio, but illness forced him to cease production in 1963.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Bequest of Alan Boxer 2014

Accession number: 2014.72

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Arthur Boyd (age 25 in 1945)

Carl Cooper (age 33 in 1945)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Estate of Alan Boxer (2 portraits)

Related information

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.

Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio

Boyd to man

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2016

Christopher Chapman looks at influences and insight in the formative years of Arthur Boyd.

Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd

Arthur as Alyosha?

Magazine article by Patrick McCaughey, 2015

Patrick McCaughey explores a striking Boyd self portrait.

Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969

Through blue eyes

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Works by Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan bring the desert, the misty seashore and the hot Monaro plains to exhibition Open Air: Portraits in the landscape.

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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.