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Australian art

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The intruder



Albert Tucker


29 Dec 1914 - 23 Oct 1999


As an expatriate artist living in Italy in the mid-1950s, Albert Tucker began to explore the ideas and imagery of the Australian landscape and mythology. ‘I was having nostalgic memories of Australia. I was remembering the dryness and gum tree trunks… I had that sense of dried out cratered form which were also volcanic landscapes, and they could also be wounds and gashes.’ 1

This nostalgia for the harsh Australian landscape was explored in works such as 'Antipodean head II' 1959, with its bark-like head. With distance from his home country and the passage of time, Tucker’s work began to move away from the religious imagery which had surrounded him in Europe – ‘the Saint Sebastians, the Christs, the Martyrs and Crosses and Virgins’ to explorers, such as Burke and Wills, masked intruders, fauns and the Ned Kelly myth, which gave his work a new focus. A double-headed axe Tucker had viewed in the Etruscan Museum, combined with the shape of Ned Kelly’s famous armour led to the development of Tucker’s distinctive angular-profile heads, seen in works including 'The intruder', which has a rough, lunar-like surface achieved through using plaster to build up the paint surface in particular areas – Tucker’s method of capturing the uniqueness of the ancient Australian landscape.

The parrot is another reoccurring motif in Tucker’s work, considered by the artist to be a ready-made symbol. Tucker said: ‘The claws that tear and the beak that rips in the middle of the colours of paradise… heaven and hell incorporated in one natural form – beautiful but murderous inside – a conflict between destruction and creation’.2

1 James Mollison and Nicholas Bonham, 'Albert Tucker', 1982, 59
2 ibid 64




Media category


Materials used

oil and plaster on board


100 x 74 cm sight; 101.3 x 75.8 cm masonite board; 121 x 95.5 x 4 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l., oil "Tucker". Not dated.


Gift of Barbara Jools in memory of Dr Nic Jools AM 2016. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number


Artist information

Albert Tucker

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Referenced in 1 publication


Gavin Fry, The Nic Jools collection, Sydney, 2011, 78, 79 (colour illus.).