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Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly Series

Sir Sidney NolanSidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Exhibition was held at the Museum of Modern Art, Heide Gallery in 1997. Below are examples of his valuable visual insight to the Ned Kelly legend. An extract by John Reed, written for the introduction to the catalogue of The Kelly Paintings of Sidney Nolan 1946-47 held at Velasquez Gallery, April 1948 gives some insight into the artist and his work:

For those of us who rank Sidney Nolan as one of the two or three painters in Australia of real significance, this Exhibition - his first one-man show in a Public Gallery - is of quite outstanding importance. We believe its value in the history of Australian painting is already assured. Australia has not been an easy country to paint. A number of artists have sensed something of what it holds and one or two - the early Roberts and Streeton - have succeeded in giving us glimpses of it which were movingly true; but we have waited many years for a mature statement to cover both the landscape and man in relation to the landscape. In my opinion this has now been achieved by Sidney Nolan in the group of 27 paintings exhibited, and it is a remarkable achievement indeed, necessitating as it has the most sensitive and profound harmony between symbol, legend and visual impact. That this has been accomplished in language of the utmost simplicity is in itself an indication of the strength of the artist's vision and discipline, while at the same time it should allow those who are responsive to the elemental things which move us all to find ready response in themselves to what the paintings have to give.

Sidney Nolan was born in 1917 in Carlton, Victoria. In the mid 1930s Nolan studied at the National Gallery of Victoria after hours while working in the art department of a hat factory. His first patrons were John and Sunday Reed from Heide Gallery and he exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society from 1939-1947. His career was interrupted by his war service, however he did manage to produce a series at Dimboola. In 1945 he began his best known series of works based on Ned Kelly and the bushranger legend, which were exhibited in Paris in 1948. In 1951, Nolan held his first exhibition at the Redfern Gallery starting his international success.

Other well known works include his Leda and Swan, African and Gallipoli series. For the next thirty years Nolan travelled and exhibited extensively, while also producing designs for ballets and plays, book covers and illustrations. He donated many works throughout his later years, including the Kelly paintings to the National Gallery of Australia. In 1985, he acquired the property adjoining Arthur Boyd's on the Shoalhaven River. He was awarded many prizes and awards including a knighthood in 1981, and was honoured with a Retrospective in 1986. He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, many regional and university galleries, the Tate Gallery, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York and numerous private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally.


The Trial

The Trial

1947
Enamel on composition board
91.5 x 122cm


Fitzpatrick and Kate Kelly

Fitzpatrick and Kate Kelly

1946
Enamel on composition board
90.7 x 121.2cm


The Watch Tower

The Watch Tower

1947
Enamel on composition board
90.6 x 121.4cm


Mrs Reardon at Glenrowan

Mrs Reardon at Glenrowan

1946
Enamel on composition board
91 x 121.5cm


Stringybark Creek

Stringybark Creek

1947
Enamel on composition board
91 x 121.5cm


Kelly and Kennedy

Kelly and Kennedy

1945
Synthetic polymer paint and paper collage on cardboard
63.6 x 76.4cm


Kelly and Horse

Kelly and Horse

1945
Synthetic polymer paint on cardboard
63.5 x 76.1cm


Kelly

Kelly

1945
Ripolin on strawboard
63.5 x 76.1cm


Glenrowan

Glenrowan

1945
Synthetic polymer paint on cardboard
63.5 x 76.2cm


Reproductions

Sidney Nolan produced a collection of limited edition prints based on his Kelly series, like this one pictured below. All were numbered and signed by the artist. Among the original set of Kelly paintings produced from 1946, only one remains in private hands. When it went under the hammer at a Sotheby's sale in Melbourne in 1989, entitled First Class Marksman, the large oil was sold for $825,000. Unlike the originals, you can still purchase the signed and numbered prints from art collectors and dealers with prices usually starting from $2,500.


Kelly and Horse

Kelly and Horse

Screenprint
Signed and numbered
61 x 81cm


Death of Sargent Kennedy at Stringybark Creek

Death of Sergeant Kennedy
at Stringybark Creek

1971
Screenprint
Signed and numbered
61 x 76cm


Kelly on Horseback in Landscape

Kelly on Horseback in Landscape

1990
Silkscreen on cardboard
Signed and numbered 1 to 60
50 x 63cm


Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly

1971 (Kelly I Series)
Screenprint on cardboard
Signed and numbered 1 to 60
47.8 x 63.5cm

 

TALKING SENSE
While not everyone wants to read about Ned Kelly or the ANZACs or even The Great Depression, we hope they want to learn something about Australian History. From the ex-Prime Minister John Howard to a confused ex-NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt (see the ex-pattern here?) a number of politicians have jumped on the teaching history bandwagon. But at what cost? From Right Wing Liberals to the multitude of State Governments, seems everyone has an agenda. We'd like to let the readers decide what is worth learning. Here at IronOutlaw.com we present the facts, the fiction and everything in between. It all adds to the experience and hopefully makes History an exciting place to be while also proving it needn't always have to be written by the victors.
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Ned Kelly: A Pictorial History available on the iPad App Store
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If you're looking for that perfect gift then head over to our shop where we are featuring Max Brown's 312 page hardcover limited edition novel Australian Son: the story of Ned Kelly for $34.95 with free Australia wide postage (or $14.95 international postage). All of Max's books come with a bonus Australian Son bookmark. These books are only available for purchase online (and not through book shops). Of course the money we raise goes back in to building the world's greatest Ned Kelly web site.

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