(Australia 12 Aug 1928 – )
52.7 x 61.1 cm image; 68.9 x 86.7 cm sheet
Charles Blackman is best known as one of the modernist artists of significance to emerge in the post-war years in Melbourne, under the patronage of John and Sunday Reed. He has exhibited regularly since the early 1950s.
For Charles Blackman, drawing is arguably his greatest strength. His schoolgirl drawings were the first consistent series of drawings he made, and were to a large part instrumental in establishing his career as a significant Australian artist.
The unsolved murder of a school friend of Blackman's wife Barbara, was the spark for the 'Schoolgirl' series, begun in 1952 and further developed the following year. Figures, including those of schoolgirls, and in this case a crippled man, appear in desolate urban, industrial landscapes, and become for him a highly developed theme. The drawings have an eerie, surreal air about them, complete with a sense of impending danger or menace.
Blackman concentrated on making these drawings for a period of about eight months and he described them as, "... the first complete works of art I ever did." (Thomas Shapcott, 'The art of Charles Blackman', London: André Deutsch, 1989, p.11). They have come to epitomize the best of his work.
Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2002