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The Archibald Prize, Australia's richest, most famous and controversial art prize and exhibition, is once more stirring the paint pot and demonstrating the cream of Australia's artistic talent in 2012. Winners and selected finalists in the Archibald Prize for Portraiture, the Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting, and the Sulman Prize for Subject / Genre Painting are now on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Winners were announced on 30 March, and the trustees have once more adhered to the controversial script. The 2012 Archibald Prize winner is Tim Storrier's self-portrait, The Histrionic Wayfarer (After Bosch). The age old debate about whether good portraiture is about a good likeness or character revelation is somewhat lost on this work since Storrier's face only appears sketched on a floating piece of paper in the background . But hey, it's the Archibald right? And attempts at explanation by the trustees usually fall on the deaf ears of the general public who think, not unreasonably, that a portrait should at least look like a portrait. Storrier himself says it's "a self portrait only in a mythical way". Go figure.
Tim Storrier's The Histrionic Wayfarer (After Bosch) - winner of the 2012 Archibald Prize
Exhibition Details When: 31 March to 3 June 2012 Hours: 10am to 5pm Where: Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, The Domain Admission prices: $10.00 adults, $8.00 concessions, $7.00 members, $28.00 family (2 adults up to 3 children).
The Archibald Prize is judged by the gallery's trustees and while its monetary value is $75,000, its value in publicity and career-boosting terms is priceless. The painting must be of a distinguished subject and painted from life, not photographs. Previous winners have included John Longstaff, Judy Cassab, Brett Whitely, and most controversially, William Dobell for his 1943 painting of fellow artist, Joshua Smith.
A Strength of Character by Raelene Sharp, winner of the 2012 Packing Room Prize
Since 1988 there has also been a People's Choice Award (you can vote when you visit the exhibition) and a Packing Room Prize was instituted in 1992. It is decided by the packers and long-time storeman, Steve Peters. This year's Packing Room Prize winner was Raelene Sharp with her portrait of actor John Wood, A Strength of Character. I'm not quite sure what it says about art, but it's interesting that the winners of these awards have never coincided with the official winner.
The Wynne Prize is judged by a noted artist appointed by the trustees and is valued at $35,000. It has never attracted quite the same kudos or controversy as the Archibald. This year's winner is Imants Tillers with Waterfall (after Williams)
Imants Tillers' Waterfall (after Williams) - winner of the 2012 Wynne Prize
The Sulman Prize (Genre or Subject) Valued at $30,000 the Sulman Prize is awarded for genre painting (a composition representing everyday life) or a subject painting that is dramatised or idealised. It is named after one of Australia's most famous architects, Sir John Sulman. It was won this year by Nigel Milsom for Judo House pt 4 (Golden mud).
Nigel Milsom's Judo House pt 4 (Golden mud) - winner of the 2012 Sulman Prize.
Named after J.F Archibald, journalist, founder of the iconic and influential Bulletin magazine and a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Archibald Prize has attracted controversy like a magnet throughout its ninety year history. It has been at the centre of changing notions about what constitutes art, and has even become embroiled in legal action on a number of occasions. Join the more than one million yearly visitors to the gallery and be there to see more Australian art history being made in 2012.