Elwyn Lynn was an important figure in the Australian art scene, excelling not only as an artist, but also a writer, curator, critic, and arts administrator. Born in 1917 and self-taught as an artist, he served as president of the Contemporary Art Society (NSW Branch) and wrote for its newsletter, the CAS Broadsheet. He was Chair of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, and Curator of the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Sydney for 14 years. His awards include the Wynne Prize in 1988, the Blake Prize in 1957, the Trustees Watercolour Prize of the AGNSW in 1980 and 1983, an Australia Council Emeritus Award in 1994, and a Membership of the Order of Australia in 1975. He exhibited widely and in 1991, the Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work.
Lynn travelled to Europe in the late 1950s and developed a keen interest in contemporary Spanish art, particularly taken with the work of texture or ‘matter’ painters Manuel Millares, Antonio Saura and Antoni Tàpies, which he saw in the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1958. Lynn said ‘The textures stunned me. The crumbliness of them, their symbolic earthiness, the cracks and the lacerations and the fissures.’ He was also inspired by the Surrealist and Dada movement artists he saw in Europe including Kurt Schwitters, whose use of collage also proved to be another influence on Lynn’s work from the 1970s. Further influence at this time from the arte povera (poor art) movement can also be seen in his work, adopting that movement’s ethos of using found objects and raw materials to create assemblages.
Lynn used various materials in his painting practice in order to achieve varied surface effects. He began adding wood, rope and other fibres into his painting, and experimented with crusty textured surfaces by incorporating materials such as cement, glue and sand into his medium. By the end of the 1960s, he was recognised as Australia's pre-eminent textural painter.
mixed media on canvas
150.0 x 150.0 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.r. verso, black permanent marker 'Elwyn Lynn 13 August '93'
Gift of Victoria Lynn 2016. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Estate of Elwyn Lynn
Referenced in 1 publication
Peter Pinson, Elwyn Lynn: metaphor + texture, St Leonards, 2002, 141, 126, 169. colour reproduction, list of colour plates