21 Nov 1915 - 20 Oct 2008
I think that there was always the hope that it could influence the way people thought about war. That it could alert people to its horrors and prevent it occurring again. You see, I was born during the First World War in 1915, and my earliest experiences were with people who were in that war or remembered the war very vividly, and then, just when I was beginning to paint, the Second World War began. So war became a kind of lurking terror in my mind from infancy through to late adolescence, when it was all building up again for another one.
I had Millet’s Sower in mind when I painted it. This is a 20th-century ‘Sower’ and the dislocated limbs represent humanity out of gear, the bleak landscape represents the present period, whereas Millet’s landscape showed fertility.
James Gleeson, 1993
oil on canvas
76.2 x 50.8 cm stretcher; 90.5 x 65.0 x 4.4 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. corner, pale blue oil "'44/ Gleeson".
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Contemporary Art Society Sixth Annual Exhibition (1944), Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, 26 Jun 1944–14 Jul 1944
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1966, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1967 -
Aspects of Australian Figurative Painting 1942-1962: Dreams, Fears and Desires (The 5th Biennale of Sydney), S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 11 Apr 1984–17 Jun 1984
Surrealism: Revolution by Night:
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, 08 Dec 2000–11 Feb 2001
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:
Lurid Beauty: Australian Surrealism and its Echoes (working title), Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 09 Oct 2015–31 Jan 2016
Referenced in 16 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 112 (colour illus.).
Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 204 (colour illus.), 300.
Dulcie Deamer., Truth, '"Art" in Callan Park style', Sydney, 02 Jul 1944, unknown. Review of CAS exhibition.
Deborah Edwards., Australian Collection Focus: James Gleeson & Robert Klippel Madame Sophie Sesostoris (a pre-raphaelite satire) 1947-48, 'Below the surface: James Gleeson & Robert Klippel Madame Sophie Sesostoris (a pre-raphaelite satire) 1947-48', Sydney, 1998.
Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'James Gleeson', pg. 124-135, Sydney, 2000, 128 (colour illus.), 129, 131.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 150 (colour illus.).
Hendrik Kolenberg, James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, 'Introduction', pg. 11-16, Sydney, 2003, 11, 13, 14, 24, 38 (colour illus.).
John McDonald, Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, Canberra, 2000, 139 (colour illus.), 257.
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 27.
Andrew Sayers, Australian art, 'Art, myth and society: the Australian avant-garde 1939-50', pg. 154-173, Oxford, 2001, 156, 157 (illus.). plate no. 87
Colin Simpson., Sun, 'Arts Angry Penguins on show', Sydney, 02 Jul 1944, unknown. Review of CAS exhibition.
Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Present day art in Australia, Sydney, 1949, 32 (colour illus.). Collection of L.L. Gilbert, Esq.
Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Present day art in Australia, Sydney, 1949, 73 (colour illus.).
Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 135 (colour illus.), 137.
Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 124 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1967, (illus.).