George Baldessin and Brett Whiteley had a lot in common – their birth year of 1939, their status as preeminent Australian artists of the 1960s and 70s, and the fact they both died tragically young. From August 31, 2018, to January 28, 2019, NGV Australia will combine the work of these two iconic Australian artists for the landmark exhibition, Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions.
Born in Italy, Baldessin's surrealist art practice frequently portrayed Australia's emerging migrant populations. Often working with silver and gold leaf, his enigmatic prints and sculptures drew inspiration from far and wide, including Japan, France and Italy. His contemporary, Brett Whiteley, was perhaps for a time Australia's most renowned artist. Emerging out of the Sydney art scene, Whiteley spent time living in London and New York City, with the latter having a profound impact on his art practice. Here, he became involved with the Vietnam War protests and was close with the likes of Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin.
Featuring over 120 works, Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions showcases many of the artists' most iconic works — with hints of pop culture, expressionist forms and the avant-garde shared in their works. At the NGV you'll see Whiteley's acclaimed work, The American Dream (1968–69), a 20-metre long painting in response to his time in New York City. There's also Baldessin's renowned MM of Rue St Denis series (1976), portraying the Christian figure of Mary Magdalene on the streets of Paris, alongside his large-scale pear sculptures from 1971–72.
Also, don't miss Whiteley's Christie series (1965), which explores the psyche of convicted British murderer John Christie in provocative style. There's also some never-seen-before works, so head along to NGV Australia to catch this once in a lifetime collaborative exhibition.
Top image: George Baldessin 'The tunnel' 1966