Sidney Nolan

b. 1917 — 1992

Painter Sidney Nolan is one of the most significant and celebrated figures in Australian art. During the 1940s, he was a member of the influential Melbourne Heide Circle, with Albert Tucker, John Perceval and Joy Hester. His iconic suite of Ned Kelly paintings completed during his time at Heide, are among the most recognisable images in the history of Australian painting. Nolan was born in Victoria in 1917. He attended evening classes at the NGV art school, holding his first exhibition in 1940. He moved into the Heide property owned by John and Sunday Reid in 1941, producing the Kelly works in 1946. In 1949 he travelled with his second wife Cynthia and her daughter Jinx to Central Australia, documenting the savage effects of the drought on the rural landscape. Later series of works included themes of Australia’s war involvement, Leda and the Swan and Eliza Fraser of Fraser Island. Nolan was knighted in 1981. He died in 1992. Several major retrospectives of Nolan’s work have been exhibited, most recently ‘Desert and Drought’ at the NGV 2002-2003, and several monographs have been published on his work, including Rosenthal’s ‘Sidney Nolan’ published by Thames and Hudson 2002. In 2011 Australian Galleries held the first complete exhibition of Nolan’s 1952 ‘Drought Photographs’.