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An image of Dry Salvages by John Olsen

John Olsen

(Australia, England, Spain, Portugal 21 Jan 1928 – )

Dry Salvages
Media category
Materials used
oil on hardboard

119.0 x 90.9 cm board; 133.2 x 105.0 x 2.8 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated u.r. corner, black oil "John/ Olsen/ 56".
Gift of Mrs EM Gardiner in memory of her daughter Marie Gardiner 1972
Accession number
© John Olsen. Licensed by Viscopy,Australia
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

My painting takes on its particular abstract quality because only in this way can I express my search for direct mystical experience. There is the feeling of an abyss, a void between oneself and everything outside, and one has the impulse to bridge it. The thing which I always endeavour to express is an animistic quality – a certain mystical throbbing throughout nature.

John Olsen, 1956

Taking its name from the title of a poem by TS Eliot, 'Dry salvages' explores the idea of being immersed in the natural world – an idea which was essential to John Olsen’s approach to painting. The painting was shown in the benchmark
exhibition 'Direction I', held at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney in December 1956.

Bibliography (5)

Deborah Hart, John Olsen, 'The Pacific loan exhibition and direction one', pg. 25-31, East Roseville, 1991, 29, 30 (colour illus.). 13

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Landscape and gesture', pg. 239-240, Sydney, 2000, 242 (colour illus.), 301.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 30.

Virginia Spate, John Olsen, 'John Olsen', pg. 1-14, Melbourne, 1963, 6-7, 17, (colour illus.). colour plate no. 1

Project 41 - the mosaic, the grid, Sydney, 1983, 4 (illus.). 6

Exhibition history (3)

Project 41: The mosaic -The grid (1983), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Mar 1983–24 Apr 1983

New Directions 1952-1962, Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains, 08 Feb 1991–24 Mar 1991

John Olsen retrospective (1991-92):