The Archibald Prize, Australia’s oldest and most prestigious portrait award, will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2021. To mark the occasion, the Art Gallery of New South Wales will present Archie 100, a national touring exhibition exploring the history of the Prize in its centenary year.
Honouring the artists who have made the Archibald Prize the most sought-after accolade in the Australian art world today, the exhibition will celebrate the triumphant and the thwarted, the many and varied subjects, as well as the controversies and the commonplace.
Arranged thematically, the centenary exhibition will present a diverse selection of Archibald portraits offering audiences a unique insight into Australia’s most celebrated portraiture prize over its 100-year history.
Archie 100 will comprise works from the Gallery’s own collection as well as from collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Australia, the State Library of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and regional galleries around Australia, as well as from private Australian and international collections.
“Ahead of the Archibald Prize’s 100th birthday next year, we are conducting a nation-wide hunt for thousands of missing Archibald Prize portraits – and we are seeking the help of people across Australia to provide more information about, and images of, portraits that have been exhibited in the Archibald Prize throughout its history,” said Natalie Wilson, curator, Australian and Pacific art, Art Gallery of New South Wales.
“Incredibly, more than 6000 portraits have been included in the Archibald Prize since it was first awarded in 1921 and we don’t know the current location of most of these works – the majority of which will be in private collections. The works are wanted for possible inclusion in the Archie 100 exhibition and to enhance the Gallery’s online prizes archive, which will be an important resource for researchers and members of the public.”
In preparation for the touring exhibition and to add vital information and images to its prizes archive, the Art Gallery of NSW is now seeking the help of Australians across the country to provide more information about, and images of, portraits that have been in the Archibald Prize throughout its history.
“We are asking people to help us by looking in their attics and garages and asking their relatives if there is a portrait in their family that was possibly painted by an Archibald artist, and to get in touch if you have information that you think might help us put the pieces of the Archibald puzzle together,” said Ms Wilson.
Following its opening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in mid 2021 alongside the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021 exhibition, Archie 100 will then tour to venues across the country. For more information, visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Archibald Prize 1923 finalist work by Norman Carter, 1923, Leon Gellert.