Sydney artist Julia Gutman wins Archibald Prize 2023 for portrait of music artist Montaigne

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Sydney artist Julia Gutman wins Archibald Prize 2023 for portrait of music artist Montaigne

Jenni Carter. Credit: Image © Art Gallery of New South

Sydney-based artist Julia Gutman has won the Archibald Prize 2023 and $100,000 for her portrait, Head in the sky, feet on the ground, of singer-songwriter Montaigne.

The winner of this prestigious Archibald Prize for 2023 has been named Sydney-based artist Julia Gutman with a portrait of Eora/Sydney pop artist Montaigne.

The 29-year-old first-time Archibald Prize finalist is one of the youngest winners in the 102-year history of the prize, with the win also marking just the 13th time the Archibald Prize has been awarded to a woman (11th woman to win) since it began in 1921.

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With a unanimous decision, Gutman took the top gong –  which comes with a monetary prize of $100,000 – for her portrait of Montaigne, titled ‘Head In The Sky, Feet On The Ground’, which was created using oil paints on canvas as well as found textiles and embroidery.

“I’m so elated and overwhelmed to have won. Shocked, dumbfounded, but very happy. It’s honestly completely surreal. I’m so grateful to be working at a time when young female voices are heard,” said Gutman.

“So much of my practice is devoted to revisiting, critiquing and contending with the histories housed in institutions. It’s so affirming for that conversation to be recognised in such a public way.

“Montaigne and I have been friends for a few years and there is a lot of alignment in our practices; we are both interested in creating our own forms and approaches rather than strictly adhering to any one tradition.

“Montaigne’s work defies genres, while her [their] mercurial soprano has become an indelible part of the fabric of Australian music.”


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Gutman is a multi-disciplinary artist who reuses found textiles to produce painted ‘patchworks’ that merge personal and collective histories to explore themes of femininity, intimacy and memory. She was included in the Primavera 2022: Young Australian Artists exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, was a finalist in the 2021 Ramsay Art Prize and was awarded the Create NSW 2020 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship.

Montaigne is a Sydney-based singer who has become an important figure on the Australian indie music scene. They have represented Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, and in 2016 won an ARIA award for Best Breakthrough Artist.

“It’s such an insane honour to be the Archibald Prize winning sitter. I sure didn’t see it coming, not because I don’t believe in Julia’s incredible talent and warm heart, but because you just never think this stuff is going to happen to you,” Montaigne says.

“Thank you so much to Julia for seeing me as a worthy sitter for her beautiful vision!”

Gutman’s painting was selected as one of 57 finalists and then as the winner from 949 entries for the Archibald Prize.

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