21 Nov 1915 - 20 Oct 2008
Gleeson spent three months living in Italy in 1948.
"It was my first encounter with the classical world, in situ, as it were ... and it set up a very real conflict for me. I had always been drawn towards the darker, less logical, more mysterious ethos of Northern European artists ... Theirs was a world in which man was by no means the measure of all things, but only a part of the turbulent, violent, and usually inexplicable forces of nature.
In Italy I encountered a very different view. Man was centre stage - the measure of all things ... In this Classical or neo-Platonic view, man was created in the image of God, or the gods were conceived in the image of man and the notion of human perfectibility, in the sense that a human being can become god-like, is implicit.
Michelangelo and other sculptors and painters pushed me towards this conception and it was to play a dominant role in determining my aesthetic route for the next twenty years or more."
- James Gleeson 1993
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
oil on canvas
127.5 x 96.8 cm stretcher; 148.3 x 117.5 x 4.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Gleeson". Signed and dated u.l. [on tablet above entablature on building in background], brown and white oil "JA GLEESON/ .../ MCMLI".
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation
Shown in 8 exhibitions
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary (1962-63):
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Beauty and the beast: the art of James Gleeson, War Memorial Art Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney, 28 Aug 2002–03 Oct 2002
James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Apr 2003–15 Jun 2003
James Gleeson: Beyond the screen of sight:
Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:
James Gleeson centenary: works from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 07 Nov 2015–27 Jan 2016
Referenced in 5 publications
Herbert Badham, A gallery of Australian art, 'Introduction', pg. v-vii., Sydney, 1954, xii, illus.. plate no. 64
Christopher Heathcote, Art Monthly Australia, '"James Gleeson: Beyond the screen of sight" at the National Gallery of Victoria', pg. 26-29, Canberra, Mar 2005, 28 (colour illus.).
Anne Ryan, James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, 'Refined Destruction! Dainty Horror!', pg. 19-28, Sydney, 2003, 21, 51 (colour illus.).
Clive Turnbull, Jean Campbell and Daniel Thomas, Australian painting: colonial, impressionist, contemporary, Adelaide, 1962, 43. cat.no. 116
The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962. not paginated, cat.no. 130