An image of Trees on hillside II

Fred Williams

(Australia, England 23 Jan 1927 – 22 Apr 1982)

Trees on hillside II

20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

"Williams has whittled away every excess from his style. He works with the economy of the Oriental artist. The effect of a landscape is expressed with nothing more than a scattering of irregular spots - a flickering constellation of little shadows and glittering highlights."
- James Gleeson 1963

The You Yangs series of 1962-64 marked Williams' breakthrough to the characteristic, spatially ambiguous works regarded by many as the most significant of his career. In works of classical elegance and understatement, he realised his aim of using the landscape as a vehicle for formal invention.

From his first visit to this range of granite hills rising from the volcanic plain west of Melbourne, he had been fascinated by the scale of the landscape.

'You Yangs landscape' 1963 is from a brilliant phase of Williams' career, when, spreading his points of focus across the entire landscape, he tilted it so steeply as to remove the sky and create a vertical reading of it. It is a work exemplifying his delight in rigorous geometry and the sheer beauty and capacity of the brushstroke to convey scattered trees and fence-lines. In the following year in which 'Trees on hillside II' was created, Williams' spots become patches and he introduces a high horizon line, heralding the beginning of his Upwey paintings.

This work was a finalist in the 1964 Wynne Prize and was acquired by the Gallery in 1965.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

oil, tempera on hardboard
91.4 x 121.9 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., "Fred Williams 64".

Purchased 1965
Accession number
© Estate of Fred Williams