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Australian art

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circa 1964


Tony Tuckson

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.


Other Titles

No. 59: BB

No. 59


circa 1964

Media category


Materials used

synthetic polymer paint on hardboard


121.2 x 121.2 cm board

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Bequest of Margaret Tuckson 2015


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Tony Tuckson

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 8 publications


Michael Fitzgerald, 'Private totems', Time (South Pacific edition), Private totems, Sydney, 11 Dec 2000, 72 (colour illus.), 73.

Renée Free, Geoffrey Legge and Daniel Thomas AM, Tony Tuckson, 'The plates', pg. 52-159, Sydney, 2006, 120 (colour illus.), 199. plate no. 125

Terence Maloon and Tim Fisher, Painting forever: Tony Tuckson, 'Plates', pg. 16-59, Canberra, 2000, 42 (colour illus.), 61. 44

David Marr.,, 'Tony Tuckson's abstract masterpieces left to Australian nation by his widow', Sydney, 03 Nov 2014, n.pag. (colour illus.). viewed 19.05.2015,

Peter Pinson, Abstract expressionism in Sydney 1956-1964, Sydney, 1980, 14, 28 (illus.), 23. 28

Daniel Thomas AM, Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, 'Catalogue to exhibition: 'Tony Tuckson 1921-1973: a retrospective exhibition' at Pinacotheca, Melbourne', pg. 29-53, Melbourne, 1982, 31, 44 (illus.). 78

Daniel Thomas AM, Tony Tuckson 1921-1973, Sydney, 1976, 29, 44 (illus.). 64

Watters Gallery, Tony Tuckson, Sydney, 1970, n.pag.. 59; priced $300