Issues for consideration

  • On the Gallery blog, read When Brett met Francis and watch the video of Brett Whiteley in his London studio at the age of 26. Why have Australian artists felt the need to travel or live overseas? Do you think this made a difference in their art practice? Discuss Whiteley’s practice and point of view, in particular. What is the relationship between his body of work and where he lived? Use examples of specific artworks to support your findings.
  • The London years 1960-67 exhibition includes work from Whiteley’s bathroom, Christie and London Zoo series as well as a selection of early abstractions. Choose one series to research in depth, including sketches and personal responses in your presentation. Create a series of work based on a subject that is important to you and that shows Whiteley’s influence in your approach.
  • Whiteley’s work during his London years – particularly the Christie and London Zoo series – suggests the influence of British artist Francis Bacon. Compare a work from one of these series with Bacon’s paintings, analysing their similarities as well as the variations in style. Discuss whether the Whiteley work can be described as an appropriation.
  • Consider the exhibitions The London years 1960-67 at the Brett Whitelely Studio and Francis Bacon: five decades at the Art Gallery of NSW. What is the benefit of viewing these exhibitions together? How do they allow the audience to understand each artist in more depth? Note the personal objects on display and how they are presented to the public. Do they enhance or detract from your experience of the artworks? What is the difference between a visit to a state art gallery and one to the home and studio of an artist? Which experience did you prefer and why? Write a critical review for each exhibition discussing these considerations.
  • Consider the studios owned by Bacon and Whiteley. What can you learn from these spaces? How did their studios inspire them in art-making? Imagine an ideal studio space that would help you to create art. Consider the location, size and functions. How would the space be divided and what objects of inspiration would be around you?