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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.

Robert Jacks

1961-1962
Charina Oeser

oil on masonite (support: 52.3 cm x 40 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Robert Jacks AO (1943–2014) is acknowledged as one of Australia's leading abstract artists. He studied at the Prahran Technical College and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, focusing first on sculpture and then painting and printmaking. The artist travelled to Canada and New York in the 1960s, living in this nexus of the avant-garde, and working with notable conceptual and abstract artists such as Sol LeWitt. In 1978 Jacks became artist-in-residence at the University of Melbourne before moving to Sydney, where he taught at Sydney's College of the Arts. Back in Melbourne by 1983, he continued to work and teach, and ultimately settled on a rural property near Harcourt in central Victoria. He maintained a prolific and consistent output throughout his career, exhibiting often. Jacks is represented in many major public, corporate and private Australian collections, and internationally, across which hundreds of his works are held.

This early and unique portrait of Jacks by Charina Forge (now Oeser) was painted at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in the early 1960s. Oeser's depiction of Jacks is an informal, relaxed portrait of a fellow student, created during the studio subject Head Painting. The artist remembers that where a paid model was not available, one of the students (or occasionally a lecturer) would volunteer to stand in as model.

Gift of the artist 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

Charina Oeser

Robert Jacks AO (age 18 in 1961)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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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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