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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.

Judy Cassab

In their own words

Recorded 1962

Judy Cassab
Audio: 2 minutes

It was always my aim to try and paint a portrait which would fit into the age we are living in. Of course, when I was very young I just painted academic portraits. Then, as I developed in my other paintings, the portrait developed with it. I still think that every portrait I do is a failure because it didn’t reach what I wanted to do with it. I think I’m best known as a portrait painter because these are the things that get most publicity, but I never wanted to be a portrait painter and I don’t consider myself one.

Lately, I tried to combine abstract with the portrait but I don’t think it’s a good marriage. I think the best I can do is to paint my abstract pictures and develop them and develop myself, and let the portraits flow freely, because I don’t believe that something which was art all through the centuries stops being art just because it lost its credit by the photographic portraits, the anonymous portraits, from which we have 300 in each country in the world; and although I know that it is a clash, I think, between my other paintings and the portraits, I can’t give up. It’s something that interests me, and that I might solve or might not. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if I solve it when I’m 70.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Judy Cassab is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Related people

Judy Cassab AO CBE

Related information

Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab

Flesh, figure and rock

Magazine article by Aimee Board, 2018

Aimee Board traces Judy Cassab’s path to the Australian outback, arriving at the junction of inspiration and abstraction.

Vintage Cassab

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

The oil portrait of Sir Frank Packer KBE by Judy Cassab was gifted to the National Portrait Gallery in 2006.

Judy Cassab

The artist's diary

Previous exhibition, 2013

The artist's diary profiles six decades of Cassab's work, from the early portrait commissions of the 1950s to later paintings that have helped confirm her eminent place in the canon of Australian portraiture.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency