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Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly: The Ned Kelly Paintings in the National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia

Being the catalogue for Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly Series presented by Etihad Airways 2 November 2012 to 27 January 2013, New Galleries, IMMA

Sidney Nolan (1917--1992) built a compelling narrative around the figure of Ned Kelly, a colorful and wronged anti-hero in homemade armor, and the comic-opera police who pursue him through the vast and featureless Australian bush landscape. The mythologizing of Ned Kelly -- a horsethief hanged in Melbourne in 1880, at age 25 -- did not start with Nolanís paintings, but his images remain the most enduring and instantly recognizable versions. With the stark black silhouette of Ned Kelly, Nolan found his most powerful symbol and poetic metaphor for Australians' relationship with their land.

 Born in 1917 in Melbourne, Sidney Nolan attended the National Gallery of Victoria School of Art.  He was conscripted into the army in 1942 and began to paint his immediate surroundings the Australian outback.  In 1945 he began his first paintings on the theme of Ned Kelly.  From 1953, Nolan began travelling extensively from his base in London, he painted many remarkable series of works inspired by his travels to Europe, Africa, China and Antartica.  Nolan made several visits to Ireland, where he painted his Wild Geese series, inspired by the many Irish soldiers who fled the country after the failed Jacobite wars of the 1690s, representing them as well-known latter day exiles and wanderers such as James Joyce and Ernest Shackleton. Six of the series were donated to the IMMA Collection on the foundation of the Museum in 1991, and a further work, Gallipoli, 1955, was donated the following year.

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