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Australian art

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The astronaut is discovered by a dreaming pierrot



Martin Sharp


21 Jan 1942 - 01 Dec 2013


Upon his return to Sydney in 1970, Sharp presented a group of works he had exhibited in London at the Sigi Krauss Gallery—the aptly named 'Artoons'—at the old Clune Galleries site in Sydney's Potts Point, soon to become the Yellow House. Armed with a pair of scissors, a pot of glue, and books and magazines filled with images from every imaginable epoch and culture, Sharp delighted in finding new relationships in plundered images from the past. In Still life he merges Vincent van Gogh’s golden-hued Sunflowers with the peroxided head of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe. Another morphs Goya's relining nude, La maja desnuda, with the seated figure of Whistler's mother, obscuring the matronly face, shoulders and skirt with her rosy flesh, 'A reminder that in every uncompromising old lady there are vestiges of a voluptuous young woman', Sharp once commented.

In this wonderfully anachronous collage, The astronaut is discovered by a dreaming pierrot, Sharp takes the iconic image of American astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin on the first moon landing in 1969, and unifies it with one of the most poignant images from Picasso's Blue period, Harlequin (1901). Using blue and cool tones to create an austere, melancholy image, the painting reflects Picasso’s profound feelings after the recent suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. The black stillness of space, where 'no-one can hear you scream', echoes the silent stare of the forlorn harlequin.
In the 1980s Sharp developed these early ‘Artoons’ into what became 'Appropriations'—painted versions of the collages he first explored in the late 1960s and early 1970s.




Media category


Materials used

two offset-lithographic prints on glass mirror


91.1 x 60.8 cm image; 109.3 x 78.8 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Thea Proctor Memorial Fund 1970


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Martin Sharp

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Jill Sykes, Look, 'Martin Sharp, man of magic', pg. 24-25, Sydney, Apr 2014, 24 (colour illus.).

Natalie Wilson., Notes from the river caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp, 'Notes from the River Caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp', Sydney, 2006, (colour illus.). Website catalogue for the 'Notes from the River Caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp' exhibition held at the AGNSW in 2006.