George Baldessin and Brett Whiteley were born in the same year – 1939 – and in the 1960s and 1970s experienced meteoric success in their respective cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
Primarily a printmaker, sculptor and graphic artist, Baldessin’s practice reflected the rich multicultural humanism of Melbourne, infused with inspiration from France, Japan and Italy, his country of birth. Whiteley, principally a painter, printmaker and sculptor; was a product of the Sydney art scene, who found early success in London and basked in the avant-garde culture of New York before returning to Sydney. For a period, Whiteley became the most public of all Australian artists.
Despite their differences, their art shares many startling and unusual synergies. Both were figurative expressionists, attracted to popular culture, and to avant-garde and existentialist ideas. Both were innovative in their use of mediums, were brilliantly provocative in their artistic language and ultimately created an art that epitomised their epoch. Tragically, both men also died unexpectedly young.
This exhibition combines some of these artists’ most iconic works as well as others that have never been exhibited before. It includes masterpieces from Whiteley’s Christie series and Baldessin’s enticing etchings that redefined for a generation of Melburnians their attitude to eroticism and the urban environment.