(b Melbourne, April 22, 1917; d London, Nov 28, 1992).
Australian painter, draughtsman, printmaker and stage designer. Australia’s most honoured and internationally acclaimed modern painter, and one of the most travelled artists of his generation, he worked prolifically in a variety of media on themes that often related closely to the story of his own life. He remained a controversial figure, considered by Kenneth Clark to be one of the major artists of the 20th century, but often criticized for trying to do too much. Alternating bright moods with blackest drama, he tended to work in series, reviving formal elements and iconography from previous works and maintaining a spontaneous style by devising new painting techniques in the process of execution.
Nolan was enrolled twice at the National Gallery of Victoria’s School of Art (1934 and 1936) while employed as a commercial artist, but he preferred to educate himself in the public library. Reproductions of works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and the Surrealists influenced his idiosyncratic, quasi-abstract works of the late 1930s, for example ...