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Albert Tucker: The Truth in Masquerade at Heide Museum of Modern Art

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by Lady Tennyson (subscribe)
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)


These performance arts inspired a series of works that address the dramas and paradoxes of modern life through notions of masquerade.

Albert Tucker, Joie de mort, 1988, synthetic polymer on composition board


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. "

Albert Tucker, Four Studies, 1950


The exhibition also includes archival material, some of which documents his involvement designing sets and backcloths for the politically active New Theatre League.

Albert Tucker: The Truth in Masquerade
Curator: Linda Short
Heide Museum of Modern Art (Heide III)

Exhibition Tours: Every Friday until 29 May, 2015 at 2pm and Sunday 24 May, 2015 at 2pm
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Why? Appreciation of important Australian Art
When: Until Sunday 16th August, 2015
Phone: 9850 1500
Website: heide.com.au
Where: Heide Museum of Modern Art
Cost: Entry to the Museum for all exhitions: Adult $16, Senior $14, Concesion $12, Child under 12 Free
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