Fred WILLIAMS | Lysterfield triptych

Australia 1927 – Australia 1982
England 1951-56

Lysterfield triptych 1967-68
oil on three canvases
signed left panel l.r., "Fred Williams". not dated
overall 152.5 (h) x 427.5 (w) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1970
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 1970.2.A-C
© estate of Fred Williams


Among Williams’s major achievements of the late 1960s was Lysterfield triptych. Larger than any of his previous works on this subject, the horizontal triptych format accentuates the scale and spaciousness of the landscape. The small notations across the surface, including vibrant touches of blue, complement the tawny ground. In the lower part of each panel are very fine lines suggesting the straw-coloured grasses at Lysterfield.

Williams felt he had achieved something with this painting. In 1978 he said in an interview: ‘Works like this were the hardest pictures I have ever had to paint, although on face value they looked to be the easiest.’ This painting is a fine  example of the way in which his minimalist approach corresponded with the implied vastness of the Australian continent.

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