ALBERT LEE TUCKER: THE EXPLORER OF THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK

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Reinvigorating the catered landscapes, harsh shapes and craggy texture of the Australian outback, modernist Albert Lee Tucker was famous for unveiling the genuine Australian image through his art. Among one of the most influential artists, Tucker was born on 29 December 1914 in Melbourne, Australia. Due to his impoverished circumstances Tucker left the school and worked as a commercial illustrator in early 1930s. From 1933 he began attending evening classes at the Victorian Artists Society and enrolled for a term at George Bell’s art school.

Inspired by postimpressionists, expressionists and social realist, the self taught artist studied the work of German artists George Grosz and Max Beckmann and influenced by his association with the two émigré artists Yosl Bergner and Danila Vassilieff. Tucker was a member of Heide Circle and was instrumental in founding of the Contemporary Arts Society.

In 1940, during his involvement in the army as an official war artist, Tucker produced three important works, “Man at Table”, “The Waste Land” and “Floating Figures”. All of these images illustrated the horror and madness of war in a social realist surrealistic and expressionistic style. Married to a fellow artist Joy Hester, Tucker belonged to the Angry Penguins group of artists active at Heide.

In early 1947, Tucker travelled to Japan as an art correspondent and produced a monochrome pen drawing “Hiroshima”. He spent next thirteen years in Europe and  the USA. In 1958, his subjects switched from the city to Australian outback, depicting the landscape as being a harsh, barren and sterile wasteland.

In 1959, Tucker won the Australian Women’s Weekly Prize and spent two years in New York producing the Manhattan series and Antipodean Heads. In 1960 he was awarded the Kurt Geiger Award by MOMA Australia and mounted his first solo exhibition. In 1964 he married his second wife Barbara Bilcock and settled in Victoria.

Tucker's works represented in all of the Australian galleries and a retrospective of his works was held at National Gallery of Australia in 1990 and at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2007.

Besides painting antipodean heads, explorers, the bush, and local flora and fauna, Tucker also completed many self portraits and portraits of friends and contemporaries, such as Nolan, John Perceval, Michael Keon and Barrett Reid.

Ensuring the posthumous artistic reputation of his first wife Joy Hester, the artist was died on 23 October 1999 in Australia at the age of 84.

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