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Australian art

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Night swimmer



William Wright AM


17 Feb 1937 - 31 Oct 2014


William Wright was born in Sydney in 1937. He undertook a Diploma in Painting at the National Art School in Sydney from 1954-58 and went on to study in Florence and London during the 1960s. His first solo exhibition was held in Edinburgh in 1965 shortly followed by exhibitions in London, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. He was well known as an curator, lecturer and arts administrator.

These two paintings are from a peak period in Wright’s art practice, painted during Wright’s stay in London in the 1960s when he was involved in the hard edge geometric and colour field painting, conceptual art, and pop art movements. Minimalism was also a lifelong influence to Wright, and the impact of these movements is obvious in the works. Although he continued to paint, Wright stopped actively exhibiting in 1968 and did not begin again until 2008, when he showed at Perth’s Galerie Duseseldoef under the title Triptych, along with his artist wife Hilarie Mais and their daughter Jessica Mais Wright.

Shortly before his death Wright said: “Night swimmer is the last of my figurative-come abstract paintings. From 1974 to 1975 anamorphic shapes cut from blue-black paper materialised and I noticed a figure. It’s directly related to the figurative shapes identified in the Night swimmer painting.” 1

1. From Art Monthly Australia, summer 2014/15, No. 276, 72




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


104.4 x 150.2 x 4.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Hilarie Mais 2015. Donated through the Australian Governemnt's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Wright AM

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Michael Fitzgerald (Editor), Art Monthly Australia, Canberra, Summer 2014-2015, (colour illus.) 69.

Chris Mitchell (Editor in Chief), The Australian, Opener of doors to perception, 03 Dec 2014, (colour illus.). Obituary by Anna Johnson

Chris Mitchell (Editor in Chief),, Opener of doors to perception, Canberra, 03 Dec 2014, (colour illus.). Obituary by Anna Johnson online