Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize arrives at Geelong Gallery this week

Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize arrives at Geelong Gallery this week

John Brack Barry Humphries in the character of Mrs Everage 1969 oil on canvas, 94.5 x 128.2 cm Art Gallery of New South Wales Purchased with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Purchase Grant from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1975 © Helen Brack

Our beloved Geelong Gallery is the only Victorian venue to host the 100-year celebration of Australia's best-known art prize.

Australia’s most prestigious art prize, the Archibald Prize, is hitting a major milestone with its 100th anniversary this year.

High profile, eagerly anticipated and often controversial, the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Archibald Prize is Australia’s favourite art award, and one of its most prestigious. Awarded to the best portrait painting, it’s a who’s who of Australian culture, with subjects often including politicians, celebrities, sporting heroes, authors and artists.

Having presented a staggering century’s worth of these portraits since its inception in 1921, engaging art enthusiasts, and challenging the way we see ourselves and our society, the Art Gallery of NSW is hitting the road and heading to the Geelong Gallery with blockbuster exhibition, Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize.

The key takeaways

  • In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Archibald Prize, Archie 100 explores the history of Australia’s most prestigious portrait award
  • The exhibition presents a diverse selection of Archibald portraits from the last century—the triumphant and the thwarted—and honours the artists who have made the prize the most sought-after accolade in Australian art today
  • Geelong Gallery is the exclusive Victorian venue for Archie 100

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Arranged thematically, rather than chronologically, the Archie 100 exhibition presents a diverse selection of some of the most memorable Archibald portraits from the last century. Using 100 key portraits – both the triumphant and the thwarted – the exhibition will explore the history of the prestigious portrait award, diving into controversies, important moments and identities, and societal changes from the past century, while also honouring the artists who have made the prize the most sought-after accolade in Australian art today.

Art Gallery of NSW director, Dr Michael Brand, said Archie 100 and the Archibald Prize online archive are extraordinary records of our society and culture.

“Since its inception, the Archibald Prize has attracted entries from both prominent and emerging artists in Australia and New Zealand, and celebrated figures from all walks of life, from famous faces to local heroes,” he says.

Archie 100 is an enthralling exploration of some of the key moments in the evolution of the prize, from 1921 to today, and an opportunity to reflect on our shared history and consider how we’ve changed over the course of a century.”

More than 6000 works were considered for the exhibition, sourced from the ANGSW’s own collection, as well libraries, galleries, museums and private collections in Australia and internationally. The gallery was also unable to track many of the portraits shown in the prize to date, and put out a public appeal to find them.

Reduced to just 100 images, the exhibition includes portraits by a wide range of artists from across Australia and New Zealand and from every decade of the prize.

“Each portrait selected for Archie 100 offers an exciting glimpse into a specific moment in time. Together, these works uncover changes in society in engaging ways, enabling people to experience how artistic styles and approaches to portraiture have changed over time,” said Exhibition curator, at the Art Gallery of NSW, Natalie Wilson.

Following the successful presentation of the 2017 Archibald Prize and 2018 Archibald Prize, the beloved Geelong Gallery has the honour of being the only Victorian venue to host the touring Archie 100 exhibition.

Arriving in Geelong this Saturday, November 6, Archie 100 will be on show at the gallery over three months of summer. Alongside the exhibition, the gallery will be presenting a comprehensive program of events and educational opportunities for the community to engage with artists and sitters alike.

“Following Geelong Gallery’s successful presentation of RONE in Geelong, the city is delighted to support Archie 100 through Geelong Major Events and looks forward to welcoming a forecast 80,000 people to the region,” says Geelong mayor, Stephanie Asher.

Over the years, a number of artists and sitters presented in Archie 100 have connections to the region or are represented in the Geelong Gallery collection, including the likes of Albert Namatjira, Janet Dawson, Sybil Craig, Kate Beynon, George Lambert, John Molvig, Ernest Buckmaster, Del Kathryn Barton, John Brack, John Longstaff, William Dargie, Nora Heysen, William Dobell, and Brett Whiteley.


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Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize is on at Geelong Gallery from November 6, 2021 until February 20, 2022. Tickets are available now.