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Article

(b Melbourne, July 31, 1937).

Australian painter. He studied graphic design from 1954 to 1957 at the Swinburne Technical College in Melbourne, where Robert Rooney was a fellow student. For the next two years he worked as a graphic artist for ABC Television in Melbourne and in 1964 had his first one-man show at the Toorak Galleries there. His early work of the mid- to late 1960s was based on a reduction of mundane objects into a geometrical pattern. Untitled (1967–8; Melbourne, N.G. Victoria), for example, is derived from an eiderdown and like many works of this period creates an ambiguity between flatness and depth through trompe l’oeil modelling. This process of reduction was carried to extremes from 1967 to 1970 with, for example, an exhibition of fences in 1969.

Hickey’s interest in mass-produced objects and patterns led to a pictorial search for the essence or archetypes of objects in the 1970s. The Cup Series...

Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Melbourne, May 9, 1958).

Australian sculptor. He spent 20 years in Australian and British television and advertising, where he was already making the mannequins that he later adapted to sculptural purposes. He started his artistic career when collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego for the Spellbound exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1996, for which he made a Pinocchio figure. Introduced by Rego to Charles Saatchi, who immediately began to collect his work, Mueck took part in the exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy in 1997 with mixed media sculpture Dead Dad (1996–7; London, Saatchi Gal.), an unsettling illusionistic rendition of his own deceased father, half life-size. Made from memory, the sculpture became as much the focus for a strong emotional involvement as it was a mere object treated with Mueck’s rigorous eye for detail. As the artist explained, the miniaturized representation proved a more emotionally involving depiction of death (an initial study was done in full scale) by compelling the beholder to ‘cradle’ the corpse visually. His concern with illusionistic verisimilitude has been linked to the uncompromising Northern tradition of portraiture exemplified by Jan van Eyck or Hans Holbein (ii). Mueck sculpts in clay, makes a plaster mould around it and finally replaces the clay with a mixture of fibreglass, silicone and resin; the technical skill involved, though taken for granted by the artist himself, has often been foregrounded by critics to the detriment of its content. Such psychological density was evident in ...

Article

Robert Smith

(Leslie)

(b Melbourne, Nov 23, 1929).

Australian cartoonist, printmaker, writer, illustrator, film maker and sculptor. After employment as an illustrator in Melbourne (1949–52), he worked in London as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist (1954–60). On the return journey to Australia he formed a lasting interest in South-east Asia, publishing the resulting perceptive and deceptively simple drawings with commentary in the first of his many illustrated books. He worked as a freelance artist in Melbourne until his appointment as resident cartoonist for the Sydney Daily Mirror in 1963 and the newly established national daily, The Australian, from 1964 to 1973. He quickly achieved popularity and repute, especially for his penetrating visual comments on involvement by Australia and the USA in the Vietnam War. He had little formal training in art and developed for himself a free-ranging personal style, which was widely emulated.

From 1970 Petty made or scripted numerous films, often combining actuality with animation and incorporating his own caricatural kinetic sculptures. After some earlier pioneering sculptural works, he created the first of what he called his ‘machine sculptures’, the ...