I'm a mum, teacher and published writer who loves travel, vintage, art and history.
Published May 1st 2015
The first time I saw an Albert Tucker exhibition was his Retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1990. I remember being so moved and inspired by his works and that was a defining point for me, it was the first time art noticeably changed me. I have followed his work ever since, which is why I went to a new exhibition of his works at Heide Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition features photographs, drawings and paintings by Albert Tucker centred around his early interest in popular culture; the theatre, the circus and Luna Park. As a young artist he used photography as a medium of interpretation for his paintings. The photographs, on display at Heide, are fascinating images of moments captured which inform us of his unique perspective and motivation. In an interview with Stephen Feneley in 1998 he said "The thing I realised quickly with a camera, it would see things I couldn't."
The photographs are not only explorations and inspirations for Tucker's works, but they are also an important documentation of Australian history.
"I never thought of myself as a photographer, but as a painter. I reached a stage where I wanted to have a record of my work and I thought a camera, if I could get one or afford one, would be the ideal means of doing it. So one day, walking down Russell Street, and I'd just had a little bit of luck with some money...in a second-hand shop, I think a pawn shop or something, I saw this little Foth-Derbi camera and I thought oh that should be a good one. So it was only 5 pounds and I went in and bought it and then I knew nothing else. I discovered I didn't know anything about all the equipment that you had to have with it and I found it had no exposure meter, it had no range finder, these things had to be done by guesswork. And so I got the camera and played with it ad infinitum for a while and then finally I got film, because I was very poor and I couldn't afford much film. So I got a couple of rolls of film and then I read the little instruction things on it that told me what to do. .." Albert Tucker
Albert Tucker, self portrait with Australian artist Joy Hester, 1939 (not on exhibition)
After World War II, during a changing world, Albert Tucker's paintings evolved into visual commentaries about social and financial inequality, and war. He believed that the war contributed to a decay in moral values in Melbourne. His Images of Modern Evil series (1943-1947) represented the city as a dangerous place and heralded a new spirit in Australian painting. On the impact of war on society he said: "...this to me was an utter outrage. Total collapse of simple morality, social morality. And this was the whole inspiration behind the images of modern evil. "