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Donald Friend, 1915-1989: Retrospective

Barry Pearce
Art Gallery of New South Wales
ISBN: 0730569322
Format: Hardcover in Dustjacket
Quantity in stock: 0

Condition: Near Fine

Price: $28.00 (inc GST)


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Includes contributions from Lou Klepac, Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend; Hendrik Kolenberg, Prints; Amanda Beresford, Manuscripts; and John Thompson, Published books, and with Barry Pearce's Introduction and essay Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture. Second edition pp. 160 Illusts colour & b/w, biographical notes #0118/0620 (small inscription on prelim.) 

Donald Stuart Leslie Friend (6 February 1915 – 16 August 1989) was an Australian artist and diarist who lived much of his life overseas. He has been the subject of controversy since the posthumous publication of diaries in which he wrote of sexual relationships with boys.

Friend's critical reputation in the 1940s equalled those of William Dobell and Russell Drysdale, but by the time of his death it had sunk so low that his work was totally absent from the 1988 Australian Bicentennial exhibition, a show meant to include every artist of importance since white settlement.

Despite winning the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 1955, Friend made "no attempt to disguise the homoeroticism which underlay much of his work". He was well known for studies of the young male nude, including nude male children, as well as his wit. His facility as a draughtsman may have contributed to the undervaluing of his work, which art scholar Lou Klepac said "always looked too easy – decorative, flowing and natural". In the mid-1960s, Robert Hughes described him as "one of the two finest draughtsmen of the nude in Australia," and noted his humanism and lack of sentimentality, while still maintaining that he was not a major artist. Barry Pearce, however, writing in the study which accompanied Friend's posthumous retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1990, said that Hughes' judgement seemed harsh and called for a re-evaluation of Friend as an artist whose "contribution to the richness of Australian art is due for much greater recognition".

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