- PUBLISHED: July 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art / Painting, Art History / Australian and Oceanic Art
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 224 Pages, 7.5 x 10.2 in, 160 color and b&w illus
- ISBN: 9781741741414
- Publisher: Art Gallery of New South Wales
Tony Tuckson’s story is not a simple one. He was an artist, arguably Australia’s most significant abstract expressionist painter, but he also played a crucial role in shaping the modern art museum in Australia. This new book looks at Tuckson through the many and varied prisms that reveal his critical role in and to art in Australia. Tuckson had been painting long before his first solo exhibition in 1970 and although he was a dedicated and serious artist he was a very private one who exhibited rarely. Tuckson began his 23 years at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1950 as an attendant. He quickly moved to assistant to the director Hal Missingham, and then to deputy director. For ethical reasons he kept his artistic practice separate, even secret. When his curatorial responsibility shifted to Aboriginal and Oceanic art, he began exhibiting. His first solo exhibition was in 1970 at Watters Gallery in Sydney. At the Art Gallery of New South Wales he introduced dedicated spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art; electric lighting; a program for the care and documentation of the collection; the ability to show new media art; and spaces for education and general visitor programs, amongst many other things. Once of his greatest legacies is challenging the accepted thinking of the day to see Aboriginal art as ‘art’ and bring it into the Gallery. With Dr. Stuart Scougall, Tuckson spent time in Yirrkala and on Melville Island with Aboriginal artists resulting in the acquisition of a major work ‐‐ the pukamani poles ‐‐ which laid the foundation for the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Authors & Contributors
Dr. Paula Dredge is head of paintings conservation at AGNSW and author of Sidney Nolan: the Artist’s Materials (Getty Conservation Institute, 2019). David Marr is an Australian journalist, author and progressive political and social commentator. Dr. Michael Mel is an academic from the Mogei community in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Steven Miller is chief librarian and archivist at AGNSW. He has published widely on art, his most recent book is Dogs in Australian Art (2013). Cara Pinchbeck is senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at AGNSW; her recent titles include Noŋgirrŋa Marawili: from My Heart and Mind (2018) and Art from Milingimbi: Taking Memories Back (2016). Leanne Santoro is a curator of Australian art at AGNSW, her most recent publication is John Olsen: A Recipe for Art (2016). Aida Tomescu is an acclaimed and award‐winning abstract painter who is a great admirer of the work of Tony Tuckson. Pedro Wonaeamirri is a senior Tiwi artist and cultural leader from Melville Island.
Foreword Michael Brand
Tony Tuckson: the art of transformation
Turning on the lights: Tuckson at the Gallery
To be cultured
Tuckson at Watters Gallery
Working from the inside out
Tony Tuckson and Papua New Guinea
Notes / Select bibliography