Collection

Roger Kemp
Movement 10 1982 (detail)
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
181.5 x 206.8 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen and Marc Besen AO 2001

TarraWarra Museum of Art holds a nationally significant collection of modern and contemporary Australian art. The majority of the works were gifted from the private collection of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AC, the Museum’s founders, who have been passionate collectors of Australian art since the 1950s.

Privately acquired collections always differ from those assembled by public museums: they are idiosyncratic and forged through enthusiasm. Since 2002, the collection has expanded with both additional gifts and acquisitions. The collection has also grown in scope to include contemporary Indigenous art and photo-media, along with gifts of international art.

The strength of the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection is Australian figurative, abstract and landscape painting from the 1930s to the present day. The Museum also holds significant collections of sculptures, prints and drawings from this period. Many of the artists represented in the collection have been instrumental in shaping the development of modern and contemporary art in Australia and the Museum holds a number of their most significant works. This has been recognised by outward loans to important major retrospectives of artists including: Howard Arkley, Gordon Bennett, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, John Brack, William Delafield Cook, Dale Hickey, Robert Hunter, Robert Jacks, Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Rosslynd Piggott, Jeffrey Smart, Tony Tuckson, Albert Tucker, Jenny Watson, Brett Whiteley, and Fred Williams. The Museum’s significant holdings of a particular artists’ works, rival and sometimes surpass, those of major state galleries and many of these works have formed the curatorial foundation of major survey exhibitions presented by TarraWarra Museum of Art on Russell Drysdale, Howard Arkley, William Dobell, Edwin Tanner, and Robert Klippel.

The Museum’s collection has also been the subject of many significant scholarly and curatorial essays by some of Australia’s most eminent art historians, curators and critics including Christopher Heathcote, Patrick McCaughey, Sarah Thomas and the late Edmund Capon, each of whom observed the ways in which the works in the collection offer rich and invaluable insights into the Australian experience over the past several decades, embodying aspects such as: notions of local and national identity, our sense of place, different conceptions of the landscape, the impact of colonisation, Indigenous perspectives and beliefs, Australia’s position in a global context, the representation of the figure, new technologies, changing spiritual and philosophical beliefs, multiculturalism and the diasporic experience, the urban sprawl, our impact on the environment, the presence of the past, and the ongoing pursuit of abstraction.

Artworks from the Museum’s collection are periodically featured in our exhibitions. Sign up to our newsletter so that you can get information about upcoming exhibitions and events.

Collection Highlights

Rick Amor
Morning in the Outlying Districts 2003
oil on canvas
176.8 x 196.4 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO 2006
© the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

Howard Arkley
The Bay Window 1988
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
161.0 x 199.7 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008
© The Estate of Howard Arkley. Courtesy Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art

Yvonne Audette
Concerto for Flute & Violins 1968
oil on plywood
127.8 x 100.0 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Purchased 2013
© Vivienne Yvonne Audette/Copyright Agency, 2020

Ralph Balson
Constructive Painting 1963
oil on composition board
90.2 x 136.6 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen and Marc Besen AO 2001
© Ralph Balson Estate

Richard Bell
Australian Art it’s an Aboriginal Thing 2006
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
diptych, overall: 240.0 x 360.0 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Purchased 2006

Gordon Bennett
Notes to Basquiat: Totem Lesson 2 2001
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
152.0 x 182.5 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Purchased 2008
© The Estate of Gordon Bennett

Kate Beynon
Masks of the Ogre Dancers 2014–15
synthetic polymer paint on linen
185.2 x 165.3 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Purchased 2015
© Kate Beynon/Copyright Agency, 2020

Charles Blackman
There Was 1953
enamel paint on composition board
74.8 x 100.2 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2013
© Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency, 2020

Peter Booth
Untitled 1998
oil on canvas
122.3 x 213.3 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection
Gift of Eva Besen and Marc Besen AO 2001
© Peter Booth/Copyright Agency, 2020

The Story Visit
We will be closed from 26 February – 1 March and will reopen on 2 March