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By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021
By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021

Another year, another Archibald Prize forced to adapt to these pandemic-afflicted times. After the 2020 award was delayed due to COVID-19, this year's gong was handed out as normal — but now the Art Gallery of NSW exhibition that always follows has been impacted by Greater Sydney's current lockdown.

So, the folks at AGNSW have released a virtual version of the popular showcase, which means both at-home Sydneysiders and folks around the rest of the country can view 2021's top portraits from their couch. The 360-degree experience lets you tour the exhibition at your own pace, and see its works as they appear within the gallery space. You can learn more about the pieces along the way as well, thanks to clickable hotspots that provide information about each artwork.

Every year for the past century, the Archibald Prize has recognised exceptional works of portraiture by Australian artists. In 2021, from a field of 52 finalists, the coveted award has gone to Melbourne-based artist Peter Wegner for Portrait of Guy Warren at 100.

A unanimous decision by this year's judges, Wegner's portrait of the centenarian and fellow artist obviously won the gong in a fitting year. "Guy Warren turned 100 in April — he was born the same year the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921," Wegner said. "This is not why I painted Guy, but the coincidence is nicely timed."

Wegner's win came after an equal number of works from both male and female artists made the finalists list for the first time in Archibald history — all of which you can now scope out from home, alongside entries and winners for the Wynne and Sir John Sulman prizes, too.

Across the three prizes, 2144 entries were received this year, which is the second-highest number ever after 2020. And, the three prizes received the highest-ever number of entries from Indigenous artists.

If you don't agree with the judges, you can also cast your own vote for the People's Choice Award before 5pm on Sunday, August 29.

Archibald Prize 2021. Peter Wegner, 'Portrait of Guy Warren at 100'. Oil on canvas, 120.5 x 151.5 cm. © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins. Sitter: Guy Warren.

Top image: Archibald Prize 2021 finalist. Kirsty Neilson, 'Making noise'. Oil on linen, 50.1 x 60.1 cm, © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins.


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