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Australian art

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(Children playing by terrace houses)

circa 1953


Charles Blackman


12 Aug 1928 - 20 Aug 2018


Charles Blackman is best known as one of the Antipodean modernist artists to emerge in the post-war years in Melbourne, largely under the patronage of John and Sunday Reed.

Blackman is also arguably one of Australian art’s finest draughtsmen. His schoolgirl drawings were the first consistent series of drawings he made, and were to a large part instrumental in establishing his reputation as a major Australian artist.

The unsolved murder of a school friend of Blackman's first wife Barbara, was the spark for the 'Schoolgirl' series, begun in 1952 and further developed the following year. Figures, including schoolgirls, appear in desolate urban or industrial landscapes. The drawings have an eerie, surreality about them, complete with a sense of impending danger or menace.

Blackman concentrated on making these drawings for a period of about eight months and he described them as '... the first complete works of art I ever did' (Thomas Shapcott, 'The art of Charles Blackman', London: André Deutsch, 1989 p.11). They have come to epitomize the best of his work.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003



circa 1953

Media category


Materials used

charcoal on thin cream wove paper


52.5 x 60.9 cm image; 68.7 x 86.4 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed in image l.r., blue ball-point pen "Blackman". Not dated.


Gift of Gwen Frolich 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Charles Blackman

Artist profile

Works in the collection