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Charles Blackman

Born 1928


Blackman, born in Sydney left school at 13 and worked as an illustrator with the Sydney Sun newspaper while attending night classes at East Sydney Technical College (1943-46). He was later awarded an honorary doctorate. He came to notice following his move to Melbourne in the mid-1940s, where he became friends with Joy Hester, John Perceval and Laurence Hope as well as gaining the support of critic and art patron John Reed His work met critical acclaim through his early Schoolgirl and Alice series, the latter Blackman's conception of Lewis Caroll's most famous character. For some time while painting the Alice series, Blackman worked as a cook at a cafe run by art dealer, George Mora and his wife, fellow artist Mirka Mora Blackman married the poet Barbara Patterson in 1951.

In 1959 he was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto - a statement protesting the dominance of abstract expressionism. The manifesto's adherents have been dubbed The Antipodeans. His work is associated with dreamlike images tinged with mystery and foreboding. In 1960 he lived in London after winning the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship, settling in Sydney upon his return six years later. In 1970 he moved to Paris, when awarded the atelier studio in the Cité des Artes. He lived there for a year at the same time as John Coburn, and subsequently returned often, as Paris was an eternal source of inspiration.

His strong friendships with fellow artists led to field trips, sessions with models, cultural interchanges with poets, writers, musicians and worked with the ballet, doing set designs, ie. Daisy Bates. After 27 years of marriage, Patterson divorced Blackman in 1978 and he married the young artist Genevieve de Courvreur. He married a third wife, Victoria Bower in 1989, who he also later divorced. He has six children, Auguste, Christabel, Barnaby, Bertie, Felix and Axiom. He has won many prizes and distinctions, culminating in a major retrospective in 1993 and an OBE for services to Australian art in 1997.

A portrait of Charles Blackman by Jon Molvig won the Archibald Prize in 1966.


National Gallery of Australia, and all state galleries
Numerous regional galleries and university collections


Charles Blackman art

signed "Blackman" upper right

Artwork Title:
oil on ceramic tile
10 x 20 cm

signed "Blackman" upper right

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