An image of Listening to nature

Brett Whiteley

(Australia, England 07 Apr 1939 – 15 Jun 1992)

Listening to nature

Location
Not on display
Further information

Shortly before taking up a Harkness Fellowship in New York at the end of 1967, Brett Whiteley travelled through Morocco, Majorca and Madrid, where he visited the Prado Museum and studied the fantastic imagery of the Flemish painter, Hieronymous Bosch. Upon returning to London, he completed a number of paintings which would prefigure his epic nineteen-panelled work 'The American Dream' 1968-69, which he completed while living at the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York.

'Listening to nature' c1967, comprises several elements seen in 'The American Dream': the use of thick resin and plaster to build up the surface; the flap and lobe of an ear; and the inclusion of collage elements; all of which suggest this work may have been a preliminary canvas in which Whiteley tested the limits of his materials.

In this and other works of the period, Whiteley vented his anger, frustration and disillusionment with society around him: exploding, viscous streams of yellow secretions emblematic of the carnage he witnessed in news footage of the Vietnam War.

Whiteley wrote:

‘I was determined myself to produce a monumental work of art that would summarise the sensation of the impending necessity for America to own up, analyse and straighten out the immense and immediately seeable MADNESS that seemed to run through most facets of American life’.

[Barry Pearce, ‘Art & life’, AGNSW, Sydney 1995, pg. 31]

Place of origin
London, England
Year
circa 1967
Media
Painting
Medium
oil, resin, fabric and collage on plywood
Dimensions
146.0 x 102.0 cm board; 153.5 x 109.0 x 5.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pale blue oil "b.whiteley 64".
Credit
Gift of Michael and Helen Carapiet 2012. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program 2012
Accession number
134.2012
Copyright
© Wendy Whiteley