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The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information, including hours

John Olsen: the you beaut country

Celebrating the remarkable career of one of Australia’s greatest artists

John Olsen Sydney Sun (or King Sun) 1965 oil on composition board, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased with funds from the Nerissa Johnson Bequest 2000 © John Olsen

‘The you beaut country – well that’s a world of imagination. It’s also a comment on an Australian aesthetic. It’s to do with a mental explanation for a feeling. It also says something about the openness of being Australian.’ – John Olsen

In association with the National Gallery of Victoria, where the exhibition premiered in September last year, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is delighted to present in Sydney John Olsen: the you beaut country, the most comprehensive survey exhibition dedicated to the remarkable career of one of Australia’s greatest artists.

From the sun kissed shores of Sydney Harbour to the expansive salt pan of Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda in South Australia, John Olsen: the you beaut country tells the story of Olsen’s long love affair with the Australian landscape. Sourced from public and private collections across Australia, the exhibition is an unmissable opportunity to view Olsen’s most iconic paintings alongside significant drawings, tapestries, prints, ceramics and sculptures.

Olsen’s spirited and evocative interpretation of this country has secured his place in Australian art history. His career-defining landscapes series The you beaut country lies at the heart of the exhibition. With its immersive and all-encompassing vision – bringing together the land, light, people, flora and fauna of Australia – The you beaut country series has continued to punctuate Olsen’s oeuvre since its conception in 1960.

Dr Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of NSW said it is an honour to host in Sydney – a city this artist has often called home – this comprehensive and engaging exhibition of the evocative work of John Olsen.

John Olsen: the you beaut country explores John’s wonderfully sensuous responses to this country.

“The exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in John’s optimistic artistic vision, trace the development of his work over decades and explore the diversity of his creative output – from large scale paintings and tapestries to the more intimate scale of his ceramics and journals,” Brand said.

John Olsen: the you beaut country is co-curated by Deborah Edwards, consultant curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of New South with David Hurlston, senior curator, Australian painting, sculpture and decorative arts to 1980, National Gallery of Victoria.

“John’s relationship with the Art Gallery of NSW and Sydney is longstanding and we see this exhibition as a part of that ongoing connection.

“Since 1953, when he led a protest that resulted in revolutionary changes to the judging of the Archibald Prize, John’s presence has always been felt at the Gallery. In 1960 the Gallery acquired John’s epic threepanel painting Spanish encounter, his first major work produced in Australia after returning from Europe ,” Edwards said.

“John was a Gallery trustee from 1976 to 1981. Then in 2005 John and the Gallery made headlines together again when he was awarded the Archibald Prize for his painting Self portrait: Janus faced. It is fitting that the Gallery now proudly hosts a celebration of John’s career which spans almost seven decades,” Edwards added.

John Olsen: the you beaut country opens at the Art Gallery of NSW on Friday 10 March and will be on view until Sunday 12 June 2017.

On view
10 Mar – 12 Jun 2017
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


Buy tickets now from Qtix

Tickets can be used once, anytime the exhibition is open. You don’t specify a date or time when booking.

$16 adult
$14 concession
$12 member
$40 family (2 adults + up to 3 children)
$8 child (5-17 years)
Free for children under 5
A $2 transaction fee applies for online purchases

Adman and John Olsen exhibitions
Joint ticket offer
$26 adult
$23 concession
$20 member
Buy joint tickets now from Qtix

John Olsen multi-entry ticket
$26 adult
$24 concession
$20 member
Only available at the Gallery

Media contact

Hannah McKissock-Davis
Tel 02 9225 1671