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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Ayers Rock



Robert Hughes

Australia, United States of America

28 Jul 1938 - 06 Aug 2012


The subject of Hughes’ watercolour is Uluru. Its low mid-distance viewpoint, boldly-washed colour and quirky cloud-strewn sky, bring a fresh, lively perspective to this renowned landscape feature. It was made during the artist’s visit to Australia in 1999 to film for a documentary series entitled 'Beyond the fatal shore', prior to the serious car accident that nearly claimed his life. Hughes carried with him a set of watercolours, paper and brushes to make ‘vignettes’ of the locations that inspired him during the trip.

Born in Sydney in 1938, Robert Hughes studied arts then architecture at Sydney University, abandoning this after two years to pursue his aspirations as a painter and poet. He wrote and drew cartoons for various publications including Sydney’s The Observer, where he became art critic under editor Donald Horne. During the early 1960s he also held several solo exhibitions in Sydney and was included in Australian group exhibitions overseas. In 1966 he published 'The art of Australia' before moving to Europe then the USA and rising to prominence as art critic for Time magazine, historian and writer. His numerous television documentaries and books on the visual arts include 'The shock of the new' (1980), 'American visions' (1997) and 'Goya' (2003); while his book on early Australian convict history 'The fatal shore' (1987) is widely admired.


Place where the work was made

Northern Territory Australia



Media category


Materials used

watercolour on white wove paper


31.0 x 41.0 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed with dated l.r. corner verso on backboard, green crayon “R.H./ ‘99”.


Gift of Doris Downes in memory of her husband Robert Hughes 2012


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Robert Hughes

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
Northern Territory