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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Peter Booth


1940 -


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




Media category


Materials used

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

Accession number


Artist information

Peter Booth

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 16 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.). 59

Kathryn Hendy-Ekers, Louise Chamberlin and Deryck Greenwood, Art-iculate: art for VCE units 1-4, 'Peter Booth', pg. 48-49, Port Melbourne, 2009, 48 (colour illus.), 49.

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.).

Sandra Jane, Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 234 (colour illus.).

Bernice Murphy, Australian Perspecta 1981, Sydney, 1981, 52, 53 (illus.), 20 (colour illus.). cat. no. 23

Jennifer Phipps, Flash Art, Australia 'Peter Booth', pg. 60, Milan, Dec 1981-Jan 1982, 60 (illus.).

Paul Ryan, Look, 'The art that made me - Paul Ryan on Eugene von Guerard, Del Kathryn Barton, Daniel Boyd and Peter Booth', pg 29-31, Sydney, May 2019-Jun 2019, 31 (colour illus.).

Bernard William Smith, Terry Smith and Christopher Heathcote, Australian painting 1788-2000, South Melbourne, 2001, 525 (illus.).

Jason Smith, Peter Booth: human nature, Melbourne, 2003, 22 (colour illus.), 67 (colout illus.), 146-147. 28

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.).

Diane Waldman, Australian visions: 1984 Exxon international exhibition, New York, 1984, 24 (illus.).

Nick Waterlow, Australian Art Review, 'Australian Perspecta 1981, A biennale survey of contemporary Australian art' Reviewed, p84-86, Rozelle, 1982, 85 (colour illus.).