When he died in 1992 Brett Whiteley left behind decades of ceaseless activity: some works bound to a particular place or time, others that are masterpieces of light and line.
Whiteley had arrived in Europe in 1960 determined to make an impression. Before long he was the youngest artist to have work acquired by the Tate. With his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Arkie, Whiteley then immersed himself in bohemian New York. But within two years he fled, having failed to break through.
Back in Sydney, he soon became Australia's most celebrated artist. He won the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes in the same year: his prices soared, as did his fame. Among his friends were Francis Bacon and Patrick White, Billy Connolly and Dire Straits. Yet addiction was taking its toll: Whiteley struggled in vain to separate his talent from his disease, and an inglorious end approached.
Written with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, and handsomely illustrated with classic Whiteley artworks, rare notebook sketches and candid family photos, this dazzling biography reveals for the first time the full portrait of a mercurial artist.
About the Author
Ashleigh Wilson has been a journalist for almost two decades. He began his career at the Australian in Sydney before spending several years in Brisbane, covering everything from state politics to the Hollingworth crisis to indigenous affairs. He then moved north to become the paper's Darwin correspondent, a posting bookended by the Falconio murder trial and the Howard government's intervention in remote Aboriginal communities.
During that time he won a Walkley Award for reports on unethical behaviour in the Aboriginal art industry, a series that led to a Senate inquiry. He returned to Sydney in 2008 and has been the paper's Arts Editor since 2011. He lives in Sydney.
Review by Caroline Baum
A very accessible biography that captures the roller-coaster ride of Australia’s most celebrated artist. Although authorised by Whiteley’s widow Wendy, the telling does not feel sanitised: there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes bad behaviour anecdotes from witnesses and participants from the heady, messy bohemian life that Whiteley created, all woven together with family photographs and images of artworks and notebook sketches. A poignant reminder of what was lost when he flamed out too fast.
REVIEW SNAPSHOT®by PowerReviews
Reviewed by 4 customers
Displaying reviews 1-4
Bohemian Australian Life - in Australia and around the world
For my students.
This is a thoroughly engrossing and highly readable biography that shines a light on a troubled and talented man.
'Ashleigh Wilson has produced an intriguing, absorbing and assured account of Brett Whiteley's life and work'. -- Mark Knopfler 'With relentless precision, Ashleigh Wilson has provided a peerless grasp of the life and genius of Brett Whiteley. This storied journey of one of Australia's most mercurial twentieth-century artists will be impossible for the reader to put aside until it is finished. It is the dispassionate biography Whiteley has long needed: a career clarified from the brilliant clouds of myth.' -- Barry Pearce, Emeritus Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW '[Wilson brings] his subject to life in a fast-paced, thrilling way...Clever selection of detail...An excellent biography.' Books+Publishing
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: 1st August 2016
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3 x 4.6
Weight (kg): 23.8