Perhaps I should have made myself clearer when I asked the Crikey army to
put forward nominations for Australia’s greatest living artist.

I did mean LIVING artist, so I was surprised when one reader nominated the
entire Heidelberg School. I also wasn’t expecting Joan Sutherland’s name to pop
up, nor that of Reg Livermore, who one reader nominated “ahead of Blackman”,
although he acknowledged “I’m not that much of a fan of Livermore”. Silly me for
not stressing that I was after nominations for the greatest living VISUAL
artist. And the definition of visual artist was stretched to take in
experimental film-making, with one reader nominating the avant-garde filmmakers
Arthur and Corinne Cantrill.

The usual and obvious subjects figured prominently in the nominations with
John Olsen and Jeffrey Smart at the top of the list, followed by Peter Booth,
James Gleeson and, surprisingly, Keith Looby. Other prominent names included
Juan Davila, Inge King, Ricky Swallow, Judy Cassab, William Robinson, Brian
Blanchflower, Brian Dunlop, Clinton Nain, Kevin Connor and Tim Maguire. There
was only one vote for Charles Blackman, the artist whose name triggered this
popularity contest after he was named by the Sunday Age as our greatest living
painter. Rolf Harris and Ken Done were each nominated, Rolf a couple of times.
There was a surprising number of regional artists nominated who would be little
known beyond their immediate environs, such as Gunther Deix of Captain’s Flat
near Canberra, Tasmanian artist Nigel Lazenby and Harry Kuehnel of Geelong.

But my favourite nomination came from Ross Stuart Whitby who, with complete
disregard for grammatical punctuation, wrote the following: “Why it’s me of
coarse . as art is subjective we can all lay claim to the title .just because
you or anyone likes it or not doesn’t make it so. and as you would not have seen
my work how do you know”.

Keep the nominations coming – at some point we’ll publish a list.
You can email me at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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