Arthur Boyd

Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd, AC, OBE (24 July 1920 – 24 April 1999) was born at Murrumbeena, Victoria and became one of the leading Australian painters of the late 20th century. A member of one of the most renowned artistic dynasties of Australian art history, Boyd was influenced by his eminent artistic family, learning painting, ceramic sculpture and pottery from an early age. Exhibiting widely from 1949 in Australia, Europe, America , Hong Kong and Asia, Arthur became Australia's most recognised and venerable artist. His work is located within the Australian National Gallery, all State and regional galleries as well as prominent public collections abroad.

Arthur Boyd's career spans more than fifty years of innovation and diversity in translating the Australian landscape, including impressionist, expressionist and figurative works and often combining biblical, mythological or fantastic scenes. His spirited imagination infused Australia 's spiritual and physical landscapes with his beautiful and haunting insight.

Boyd's work ranges from impressionist renderings of Australian landscape to starkly expressionist figuration, and many canvases feature both. Several famous works set Biblical stories against the Australian landscape, such as The Expulsion (1947–48), now at Art Gallery of New South Wales.

He was a member of the Antipodeans, a group of Melbourne painters that also included Clifton Pugh, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval and Charles Blackman.
His early paintings were portraits and seascapes of Port Phillip, created while he was an adolescent living in the suburbs of Melbourne. But on moving to the inner city, he became influenced by his contact with European refugees which was reflected in a distinct period of depictions of fanciful characters in urban settings.

In the 1940s he was a member of the Angry Penguins artistic and literary group. His best-known work is perhaps his Half Caste Bride series in the 1950s, based on his contact with Aboriginal culture in Alice Springs in 1951. In 1958 he represented Australia with Arthur Streeton at the Venice Biennale.

He produced several series of works, including a collection of 15 biblical paintings based on the teaching of his mother, Doris Boyd née Gough. Later he produced a tempera series about large areas of sky and land, called the Wimmera series.
Avoiding the social issues raised in works such as his Half Caste Bride series and feeling drawn to European styles of painting, Boyd moved to Hampstead, London in 1960. In the same year he held his first London exhibition. While there, Boyd entered another distinct period with his works themed around the idea of metamorphosis.

He started another well-known series of works, Nebuchadnezzar, in 1966. This series was a statement on the human condition and is often considered to be his most beautiful.

Boyd returned to Australia in 1971, as one of Australia's most highly regarded artists. In 1978 he bought properties and settled permanently at Bundanoon on the Shoalhaven River, creating work that focused on the primeval natural settings found in the Australian bush and in later years exploring the interplay between human land use and natural wilderness. Boyd was enthralled by his position near the river and by the scale and moods of the valley landscape. He donated this 1100-hectare property to the people of Australia in 1993.

In 1975 he presented several thousand works to the National Gallery of Australia. In 1979, he was named an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia. In 1992 he was raised to the Companion level of the order (AC).

Boyd died in 1999, survived by his wife Yvonne Boyd née Lennie, and son Jamie and daughters Polly and Lucy.

Source: The Art of Healing Magazine
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