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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Animal landscape



John Olsen

Australia, England, Spain, Portugal

21 Jan 1928 -


In the 1960s John Olsen changed the way Australians looked at the landscape with his ground-breaking ‘You beaut country’ series. He abandoned the traditional landscape format with its delineated sky, horizon line and earth. Instead, he took us up in the air looking down, showed us the dips and crevices of the terrain, and the imaginary creatures from his psyche, placing them all on the picture plane in ambiguous spatial relationships. Olsen has continued to redefine the landscape in Australia in his seven decades of painting. 'Animal landscape' is part of his latest incarnation of the subject.

'Animal landscape' features Olsen’s signature calligraphic line in the dips and twists of the landscape depicted. Animal and plant life took on new importance in Olsen’s work from the 1970s. Trees and animal life cling to the edges of the landscape, and birds fly across the canvas, as in much of Olsen’s Lake Eyre work. The shape of the landscape itself is almost animal-like, a zoomorphic depiction of the land mass as a multi-legged creature, its head disappearing out of the left side of the canvas, which adds a further intriguing element to the work.




Media category


Materials used

oil and acrylic on canvas


150.0 x 250.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r "John Olsen 016".


Gift of the artist 2017. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Olsen

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history