An image of Italy

James Gleeson

(Australia 21 Nov 1915 – 20 Oct 2008)


Not on display
Further information

Gleeson spent three months living in Italy in 1948.

"It was my first encounter with the classical world, in situ, as it were ... and it set up a very real conflict for me. I had always been drawn towards the darker, less logical, more mysterious ethos of Northern European artists ... Theirs was a world in which man was by no means the measure of all things, but only a part of the turbulent, violent, and usually inexplicable forces of nature.
In Italy I encountered a very different view. Man was centre stage - the measure of all things ... In this Classical or neo-Platonic view, man was created in the image of God, or the gods were conceived in the image of man and the notion of human perfectibility, in the sense that a human being can become god-like, is implicit.
Michelangelo and other sculptors and painters pushed me towards this conception and it was to play a dominant role in determining my aesthetic route for the next twenty years or more."
- James Gleeson 1993

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

oil on canvas
127.5 x 96.8 cm stretcher; 148.3 x 117.5 x 4.2 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Gleeson". Signed and dated u.l. [on tablet above entablature on building in background], brown and white oil "JA GLEESON/ .../ MCMLI".

Purchased 1952
Accession number
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation