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Australian art

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Tony Tuckson

Egypt, England, Australia

18 Jan 1921 - 24 Nov 1973


'He shows the making of a painting with all the travail fully exposed, without prettification or pretence ... there is something almost shocking in the completeness of the exposure'. James Gleeson, April 1973

Tony Tuckson is admired as one of Australia's finest abstract expressionist painters. From the late 1950s, he used increasingly simplified forms and restricted colour to concentrate on the act of painting. While absorbing developments in European and American abstraction, and admiring the work of fellow Australian artist Ian Fairweather, Tuckson's approach may be most strongly allied to his lifelong interest in Aboriginal and Melanesian art.

Working as Deputy Director of this Gallery from the 1950s to 1973, Tuckson painted prodigiously in private. During his lifetime, his artistic career was almost completely overshadowed by his art museum profession. His belated first solo exhibition was held in 1970 at Watters Gallery, Sydney and his second in 1973 - a few months before his premature death at the age of 52.

Painted during this late period, this work presents a surface animated by broad, lyrical brushstrokes. Layers of paint in subdued hues have been built up on the hardboard surface. A long, narrow section of the composition is left unpainted, revealing the raw board beneath. This vertical strip, which is reminiscent of a Barnett Newman 'zip' - and which is echoed in the charcoal lines drawn upon the painted surface - brings a host of allusions into play with the painting.


Other Titles

Pale yellow with charcoal lines

Untitled (Pale yellow with charcoal lines)




Media category


Materials used

synthetic polymer paint and charcoal on hardboard


214.0 x 122.5 cm


Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 2013

Accession number


Artist information

Tony Tuckson

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 9 publications


Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Larrikin I and II equal personality plus', Sydney, 21 Jan 2001, 10, 11 (illus.). Spectrum supplement

Tony Tuckson, Sydney, 2006, 150 (colour illus.), 201. plate no. 166

Painting forever: Tony Tuckson, Canberra, 2000, 57 (colour illus.), 62. titled 'No title (Pale yellow with charcoal lines)'; 55

Reversals: Philip Guston and Tony Tuckson, Sydney, 1994, n.pag. (colour illus.). titled and dated 'Pale yellow with charcoal lines' 1973; 24

Tony Tuckson: themes and variations, Bulleen, 1989, 26. titled 'Untitled (Pale yellow with charcoal lines)'; 37

Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, Melbourne, 1982, 32, 52 (illus.). 96

Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, Sydney, 1976, 16, 30, 49 (illus.). 90

Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation: Celebrating 30 years of art acquisitions, Sydney, 2015, 41 (colour illus.).

Tony Tuckson, Sydney, 2018, 18, 19 (colour illus.), 20, 48, 75 (colour illus.) (detail), 141 (colour illus.), 209, 223.