Black on white
Egypt, England, Australia
18 Jan 1921 - 24 Nov 1973
Tony Tuckson is widely acknowledged as Australia's pre-eminent abstract expressionist painter. From the late 1950s, Tuckson abandoned representations of the figure in his art and developed a spectacular abstract aesthetic that he worked on in various distinct phases throughout the 1960s until his death in the early 1970s. His style moved from an early calligraphic emphasis on mark making to his final sensuous and sweeping veils of paint that one critic referred to as Tuckson's own formula for the sublime.
Throughout the years of his tenure as an arts administrator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (between 1950-1973) Tuckson's painting practice was a relatively personal pursuit. So much so that when an exhibition was held of his works at Watters Gallery in 1973, his painting appeared to many as a revelation, and he was declared Australia's leading abstract expressionist painter and an 'undiscovered master'.
Tuckson's work contains the gestural hallmarks of the international movements of Abstract Expressionism and Action painting, yet they also confront us as powerfully distinct in their expressive capacities. The works of those who inspired him may have appeared more obvious in the early stages of his practice (the impact of Rauschenberg for example can be detected in his 'red, black and white' series), and yet his interpretation of twentieth century masters produced a style that was in more ways the artist's own. Tuckson's engaged study of the extraordinary heritage of Aboriginal art also led him to reconsider the formal elements of his abstraction, contributing to the highly individualised, and some argue localised, distinctions of his abstract oeuvre.
No. 37: Black on white
synthetic polymer paint and paper on hardboard
97.6 x 91.9 x 2.5 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Bequest of Margaret Tuckson 2015
Not on display
© Estate of the artist. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Tony Tuckson (1970), Watters Gallery, East Sydney, 27 May 1970–13 Jun 1970
Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Apr 1976–09 May 1976
Abstract expressionism in Sydney 1956-1964, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Paddington, 07 Oct 1980–24 Oct 1980
Up, down and across, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, 11 Aug 1995–08 Oct 1995
Painting forever: The art of Tony Tuckson:
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 04 Nov 2000–04 Feb 2001
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 23 Mar 2001–20 May 2001
- Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre 07 Sep 2001–10 Feb 2002
- Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat 07 Sep 2001–21 Oct 2001
- Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 23 Feb 2002–21 Apr 2002
Referenced in 9 publications
Sasha Grishin AM, 'A short-lived flowering', The Canberra Times, A short-lived flowering, Canberra, 21 Nov 2000, 10, 10 (illus.). Review of 'Painting forever' at NGA
Susan Lockett, Up, down & across, 'Catalogue of works', Campbelltown, 1995, n.pag..
Terence Maloon and Tim Fisher, Painting forever: Tony Tuckson, 'Plates', pg. 16-59, Canberra, 2000, 36 (colour illus.), 61. cat.no. 36
David Marr., theguardian.com.au, 'Tony Tuckson's abstract masterpieces left to Australian nation by his widow', Sydney, 23 Apr 2015, n.pag.. viewed 19.05.2015, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/03/tony-tucksons-abstract-masterpieces-left-to-australian-nation-by-his-widow
Peter Pinson, Abstract expressionism in Sydney 1956-1964, Sydney, 1980, 13, 23. cat.no. 27
Daniel Thomas AM, Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, Sydney, 1976, 28, 4? (illus.). cat.no. 52
Daniel Thomas, Tony Tuckson, 'An introduction to Tony Tuckson, 1921-1973', pg. 21-37, Sydney, 2006, 33 (illus.), 112 (colour illus.), 198. plate no. 108
Daniel Thomas, Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, 'Introduction', pg. 8-22, Melbourne, 1982, 18 (illus.), 54. fig.no. 19
Watters Gallery, Tony Tuckson, Sydney, 1970, n.pag.. cat.no. 37; not for sale