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Fred WILLIAMS

Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1927 – Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1982

  • Movements: England 1951-56

(Landscape) 1977 Australia
drawings, painting, Technique: drawing in synthetic polymer paint
Primary Insc: Signed and dated lower right in gouache, 'Fred Williams 77'. Not titled.
sight 55.0 h x 75.0 w cm
Gift of Alcoa World Alumina Australia 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.100
© estate of Fred Williams

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  • Fred Williams is one of Australia’s most important artists. His powerful depictions of the Australian landscape have changed the way in which we perceive the unique topography and vegetation of this country. Williams devised his own formal language of mark-making and spatial configuration, combining his interest in contemporary abstraction with his enduring concern to express the essence of place.
    Williams was born in Melbourne in 1927 and died in 1982. From the 1950s the Australian landscape was to become his major preoccupation. His distinctive vision is suggested by his thoughts about place:
    It’s perfectly true, [the Australian landscape] is monotonous … There is no focal point, and obviously it was too good a thing for me to pass up … if there’s going to be no focal point in a landscape it had to [be built] into the paint.1
    Landscape was most likely painted at Cavan, a historic property on the Murrumbidgee River near Yass, New South Wales, in 1977.2 In this work Williams emphasises the predominantly horizontal topography of the landscape, the vast sky and the sparse vegetation scattered across the dry earth.2

    1 Fred Williams to James Gleeson, 1978, quoted in Irena Zdanowicz & Stephen Coppel, Fred Williams: an Australian vision, London: The British Museum Press, 2003, p77.
    2 Information provided by Lyn Williams in correspondence with Dr Deborah Hart, Senior Curator Australian Painting and Sculpture, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 29 August 2005.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010