Along with a handful of other repellent images unleashed by him, Peter Booth's 'Painting' stands out as one of the indisputable benchmarks of its era. Born and educated in Sheffield, the young Booth arrived in Australia in 1958, continuing his studies in Melbourne, the city which remains his home. His early creation of hard-edged abstract paintings led to his inclusion in The Field exhibition in 1968, a turning-point for him as much as for modern Australian art. By the late 1970s, fearing he had reached an impasse with a body of completely monochrome works, and pre-empting an international revival of figuration in painting, Booth plunged into a fevered period of grimly morbid invention. Humanity was portrayed as a race of victim-idiots tormented by the bloodied and bloodthirsty monsters of its own imagining. Bosch and Goya are Booth's antecedents, though not his prototypes, for there is something utterly of the twentieth century in these ghoulish spectres of modernity.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999
oil on canvas
197.5 x 304.5 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated verso, black paint "PETER BOOTH 1981".
Purchased with assistance from the Visual Arts Board Australia Council 1981
Not on display
© Peter Booth, 1981. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 7 exhibitions
Australian Perspecta 1981, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 May 1981–21 Jun 1981
(Peter Booth), Pinacotheca Gallery, Australia, Nov 1981–Dec 1982
Eureka! Artists from Australia, Serpentine Gallery, London, 13 Mar 1982–25 Apr 1982
Australia: Venice Biennale 1982: Works by Peter Booth and Rosalie Gascoigne, Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice, 01 Jun 1982–30 Sep 1982
Project 40 - Australian Artists at Venice and Kassel (1983), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Feb 1983–13 Mar 1983
Two centuries of Australian painting, a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Orange Regional Gallery, Orange, 19 Apr 1986–15 Jun 1986
Peter Booth: Human nature, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 29 Nov 2003–29 Feb 2004
Referenced in 15 publications
Anthony Bond and Victoria Lynn, AGNSW Collections, 'Contemporary Practice - Here, There, Everywhere ...', pg. 229-285, Sydney, 1994, 268 (colour illus.).
Donna Brett, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Expression and the figure', pg.108-153, Sydney, 2006, 118, 119 (colour illus.).
Janine Burke., Art for the end of the World, 'Meanjin', Oct 1981, 379 (illus.), 380.
Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, 49 (illus.). cat.no. 59
Tim Hilton., Observer Review, 'Another Skeleton', 21 Mar 1982, (illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 169 (colour illus.).
Jennifer Phipps, Flash Art, Australia 'Peter Booth', pg. 60, Milan, Dec 1981-Jan 1982, 60 (illus.).
Graeme Sturgeon, Art and Australia (Vol. 19, No. 3), 'Perspecta 81: The 'been-there-done-that' of the new', pg. 335-339, Sydney, Autumn 1982, 336, 337 (illus.).
Nick Waterlow, Australian Art Review, 'Australian Perspecta 1981, A biennale survey of contemporary Australian art' Reviewed, p84-86, Rozelle, 1982, 85 (colour illus.).
Unknown, Australian Perspecta 1981, Sydney, 1981, 52, 53 (illus.), 20 (colour illus.). cat. no. 23
Peter Booth: human nature, Melbourne, 2003, 22 (colour illus.), 67 (colout illus.), 146-147. cat.no. 28
Australian painting 1788-2000, South Melbourne, 2001, 525 (illus.).
Unknown, Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 234 (colour illus.).
Australian visions: 1984 Exxon international exhibition, New York, 1984, 24 (illus.).
Art-iculate: art for VCE units 1-4, 'Peter Booth', pg. 48-49, Port Melbourne, 2009, 48 (colour illus.), 49.