ARTIST SUES OVER ARCHIBALD WINNER
The portrait that won the 2004 Archibald Prize was not a painting, and was therefore ineligible for the prestigious award, a NSW court has been told.
Sydney artist Tony Johansen is taking legal action against the Art Gallery of NSW trustees over the striking portrait of Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil by Craig Ruddy.
Mr Ruddy’s portrait took out both the Archibald people’s choice award and the $35,000 portrait prize in 2004.
But Mr Johansen argues Mr Ruddy’s winning portrait predominantly used charcoal and graphite and had all the hallmarks of a drawing, not a painting.
His lawyer, Chris Birch, SC, today told the NSW Supreme Court there had been a breach of the trust that stipulated the Archibald Prize go to the “best portrait painting, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics” by an artist in Australasia in the past 12 months.
“The legal question is whether it can be described as having been painted,” Mr Birch told Justice John Hamilton.
Based on “factual issues”, Mr Birch said “it cannot properly be described as painted”.
But Brett Walker, SC, for the art gallery’s trustees, said he was confident Justice Hamilton would be “comfortably satisfied that there is at least a proper basis for an intelligible opinion that this was painted”.
Justice Hamilton said no one was criticising the artistic value of Mr Ruddy’s work.
“Anyone I have ever heard of who has seen it has thought it an extraordinarily good picture,” he said.
“I use that word advisedly.”
The artwork was today standing in the courtroom.
Johansen’s own entry for the 2004 Archibald Prize, an acrylic portrait of the entertainer Carlotta, was not chosen as a finalist.
He has denied sour grapes was behind the legal action.
The hearing continues.
The Sydney Morning Herald (online)The portrait that won the 2004 Archibald Prize was not a painting, and was therefore ineligible for the prestigious award, a NSW court has been told.