Media Release

18 June 2008




A major retrospective exhibition on Australian artist Richard Larter, featuring approximately 90 works from public and private collections and brought together for the first time, opens at the National Gallery of Australia this Friday, 20 June 2008.

Featured in the exhibition are the works that Larter painted of the Canberra bushfires as well as other paintings inspired by journeys from Yass to Sydney.  Canberra has been home to Larter for the past 8 years and prior to this, he lived in Yass for 18 years.

Richard Larter’s vibrant, thought-provoking work spans five decades. Shown across three large gallery spaces, the exhibition conveys diverse themes, including the artist’s fascination with popular culture, a strong opposition to censorship and war and a continuing interest in the human body and sexuality.

Although Larter is most often thought of as a provocative artist, this retrospective shows the breadth of his output over the years. It reveals his abilities as a painter of inventive, lyrical abstracts and landscapes of radiant luminosity.

The most consistent and passionate obsession in Richard Larter’s art over the years has been Pat Larter (1936–1996), his late wife, who was also an artist and performer in her own right. In drawings, prints, paintings and film over the years, he fully engaged with the energy she imparted and shared. A selection of these works will be shown in a room devoted to his muse Pat.

The National Gallery of Australia is proud to host this first retrospective of Larter’s figurative and abstract works in a major public institution. Director Ron Radford says: “Richard Larter’s art seems to be that of an eternally young man, yet he turned 79 this year, and has painted exuberantly well and prolifically for over half a century. It is high time that this major Australian artist had a full retrospective in a major institution supported by a significant publication. His reputation rests firmly on his abilities as a painter.”

The National Gallery of Australia has been collecting Larter’s work since 1970 and has the largest public collection of his work. Since the 1970s his work has been collected and shown at major galleries across Australia including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Newcastle Region Art Gallery and Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. A work acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery won the Trustees Prize as early as 1976.

Richard Larter’s dedication to his art and relentless work ethic has resulted in an enormous body of work and the selection of works for a manageable retrospective display has been especially demanding. Exhibition curator Deborah Hart says, “It was important to convey the broad range of Larter’s output over the years. His contribution to Australian art is apparent in his abilities to convey a feeling of the ‘theatre of life’ as well as in his non-figurative work relating to natural phenomena, music and physics. His art over more than fifty years reveals him to be an extraordinary colourist and technical innovator.”



Media contact:

Jenny Blake
Marketing Manager
National Gallery of Australia
p: 02 62406700
m: 0408611014

Norma Davis
National Gallery of Australia
p: 02 62406700
m: 0421 456 187