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JOHN OLSEN  Australia  1928 -



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Born in Newcastle, 1928, John Olsen's place in Australian art is unchallenged. He is one of Australia's most significant and accomplished artists and is recognized for this both nationally and internationally for his energetic and distinctive art. His name is widely associated with his exuberant and colloquial You Beaut Country series which firmly established his reputation in the early 1960s. He is also famous for his 1970 interpretation of Sydney harbor in his commission for a huge 70 foot by 10foot painting at the Sydney Opera House called The Salute to Five Bells Plants, birds and animals began to feature in his works during the 1970s and 80s when Olsen travelled extensively across the country, giving new insights into Australia's regional and desert landscapes which captured a spiritual and universal dimension to the Australian landscape and natural world. Barry Pearce, head curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of NSW, describes Olsen as "the king, the one who has defined the continent of his generation better than anyone else".There have been other great Australian landscape painters during Olsen's time, says Pearce, such as Fred Williams and now William Robinson. But Olsen is "the poet of the brush. He's been brave enough to go out into the interior of Australia and embrace it with love, absorb himself in it like a true poet." In an Olsen you can recognize "the topography despite the felicity of his brush". What's more, says Pearce, "He's been getting better. His last few shows have proved he's a real genius." Olsen has won many awards including the Archibald Prize in 2004 for his self-portrait, the Wynne Prize in 1969 and 1985; he also received an Order of Australia (AO) in 2001. In 1977 he was awarded the OBE for services to the Arts and in 1993 he was awarded an Australian Creative Fellowship. John Olsen's work is represented in all Australian state gallery collections, the National Gallery of Australia and regional galleries Australia-wide. He is represented in institutional, corporate and private collections in Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA.