A dynamic and unique force in Australian art, Kiffy Rubbo was director of the Ewing & George Paton Galleries, at the University of Melbourne Student Union 1971-1980. With Meredith Rogers, Assistant Director (1974-1979), Rubbo devised an innovative and inclusive exhibition program presenting a wide range of artforms. Under Rubbo’s leadership, the Gallery became a vital, nationally and internationally recognised venue, the first institutionally supported experimental art space in Australia.
Rooney’s 75 portraits of his colleagues and fellow artists were produced between 1978 and 1984. They followed on from his conceptual photo works of the 1970s. Whereas those earlier Instamatic works were presented in grid patterns of order and repetition and showed little concern for technical standards, Rooney wanted his portraits to be as perfect as he could manage. He formulated certain rules, such as using only available light and not cropping the images. Rooney often made portraits on the spur of the moment, however posing was also done in collaboration with the subject. Each portrait had elements pertaining to the subject’s character and work, though these often occurred through chance rather than design.
Robert Rooney was born and educated in Melbourne, and he attended Swinburne College of Technology 1954-57. Rooney’s career has encompassed painting, collage, prints, music, photography, and commercial art and design. He has exhibited throughout Australia and been included in a number of significant exhibitions including the Biennales of Sydney 1986, 1990 and ‘Cubism and Australian art’, Heide Museum of Modern Art 2009.
Portrait of Kiffy Rubbo
19.2 x 29 cm image; 19.9 x 29.7 cm paper
Signature & date
Signed. u.c. verso sheet, pencil 'Robert Rooney'. Not dated.
Anonymous gift 2016
Not on display
© Robert Rooney
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
From the homefront: Robert Rooney works 1953-1988, Monash University Gallery, Clayton, 19 Oct 1990–28 Nov 1990
Referenced in 1 publication
Jennifer Duncan and Merryn Gates (Editors), From the homefront: Robert Rooney works 1953-1988, Clayton, 1990, cat no 116.