2008/09/05

Inspiration: William Dobell









I've been studying the work of portrait painters recently to see what elements I could bring to my own work. I happened to come across the work of Sir William Dobell, a celebrated Australian artist who I was totally unfamiliar with. What really caught my attention was the portrait he had done of fellow artist Joshua Smith which he entitled "Portrait of an Artist" and won him the Archibald Prize (regarded the most important portraiture prize in OZ).
Like Otto Dix and George Grosz, Dobell would exaggerate his subjects to the point where it became caricature and it seems that's what caused him a big problem with the Archibald.
Dobell’s Archibald win was contested by two unsuccessful artists who filed a lawsuit against him and the Gallery’s board of Trustees in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The main witness, J.S MacDonald argued that Dobell’s painting of Joshua Smith did not comply with the Archibald guidelines as it was not a balanced likeness of an actual person, but a caricature (which it clearly was). Although the award was upheld the ordeal left Dobell physically and emotionally scarred.
So once again caricature was considered a lower art form when obviously many of the "Masters" morphed their subjects attempting to capture their essence.

6 comments:

Moyse said...

Fascinating post Vin! I enjoyed the little video at the end as well.

Vincenzo said...

I thought so too...very strange case since the portrait was absolutely an exageration...and Dobell was willing to admit that!!

John T. Quinn 3rd said...

great post vince. thanks!

Vincenzo said...

You're welcome John...glad you enjoyed it!

Elliot Cowan said...

Dobell is indeed wonderful.

The Archibald is a big art show back home with big prize money.
It's usually full of great stuff.
The grunts who pack everything up and shlep everything about give their own award which is quite nice.

Vincenzo said...

Yes he is...I wish I could've found more samples of his work...even the book I picked up on him, "William Dobell / Portraits in Context" by Jane Hylton only had a small sampling.