For the first time in 15 years, the National Gallery of Australia’s collection of Sidney Nolan’s ‘Ned Kelly’ paintings will be touring Australia next year, including a visit to Geelong, with the Geelong Gallery being the nominated Victorian venue. This national tour gives Australians across the country a chance to experience some of the most famous masterpieces of 20th century Australian art.
While the Kelly paintings have been exhibited internationally at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, they have rarely visited the far corners of Australia.
“It is essential that all Australians have equal opportunity to access these remarkable works,” says Dr Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. “By experiencing this iconic group of paintings with their radical style, and anti-establishment mythology first-hand, new generations gain insight into the work of one of our most well-known artists.”
From 1946-1947, Nolan developed an original and starkly simplified image of Ned Kelly, which quickly became a national symbol—part of the shared iconography of Australia. The NGA acquired its first Ned Kelly work from the series in 1972, Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek 1946. In 1977, art collector Sunday Reed donated to the NGA, 25 of the 27 paintings from Nolan’s first exhibited Kelly series. Together, these 26 paintings provide a masterclass on Australian art history and the development of a new figuration and landscape painting in Australian art.
The exhibition is an exciting addition to the Geelong Gallery, with director Jason Smith explaining its drawcard status for visitors to our great city and region.
“Following the success of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 2017 Archibald Prize and upcoming 2018 Archibald Prize, we look forward to presenting this major exhibition to the community,” he says. “We are also thrilled about the educational opportunities and our ability to continue to demonstrate the capacity and audience reach of Geelong Gallery ahead of potential City Hall changes.”
Check out the Kelly collection at the Geelong Gallery from March 1 to May 26 in 2019.
Written by Chloe Cicero
Image Sidney Nolan NED KELLY 1946