Sidney Nolan: The Artist's Materials
Getty Conservation Institute
The Artist's Materials series is indispensable for anyone who want to scratch the surface and learn more about the technique and materials modern painters are using to channel their alchemy.
One of Australian’s most widely known painters of modern times is Sidney Nolan, with one his more prominent pieces being a series depicting the quintessential outlaw here on terra australis, i.e. Ned Kelly.
Given the variety the jobs Sidney Nolan held, he had exposure to handling and experiencing an array of paints and their application, which helped him hone his craft to propel his artistic endeavours forward, which eventually evolved to a full-time career as an artist.
What I have always found intriguing about Nolan is that he harboured a trait that was carried on by artists like Anselm Kiefer, i.e. that he used unconventional materials that did not necessarily lend themselves well to preserving the artwork – be it the paints he used, the materials or the utilization of household items like shoe polish, et cetera.
While Nolan’s faible for the usage of more outlandish materials had always been on my radar, learning that he blended and mixed them in a meticulousness manner to achieve the exact effect he was aiming for, was new to me.
The microscopic view with which Nolan’s work and approach is shed light on, makes the mere analysis a work of art in itself and enhances the experience of viewing his art from a new angle, which not only adds depth and dimension to his artworks but also helps to understand them better. In that way, it is an essential resource for anyone interested in Nolan’s art, not merely the connoisseur and the fact that the book is written scholarly yet very readable only adds to its appeal.
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