Archibald Prize 2012
The Archibald Prize is an annual exhibition eagerly anticipated by artists and audiences alike. It never ceases to create lively debate amongst the arts community and wider public.
Jules François Archibald (1856–1919) was founding editor of The Bulletin and made a significant contribution to the development of a distinctly Australian style of literature and graphic newspaper art. His 1919 bequest funded the creation of a major portrait painting competition, aiming to foster portraiture, support artists and perpetuate the memory of great Australians.
Each year in accordance with the Archibald Bequest, resident Australian artists are invited to submit paintings portraying from life, men or women ‘distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics’. The Trustees of the Gallery judge the entries and the winner receives $75,000, courtesy of ANZ. This is a non-acquisitive competition. In addition to the main prize, The People’s Choice is awarded to the painting voted most popular with visitors to the exhibition.
Taking a variety of forms, a portrait can be simply a visual record for posterity, a personal tribute, a remembrance or token of friendship, a celebration of a person’s status or an indicator of fashion. The finest portraits involve a probing of the inner individual as well as external appearance, and at the same time, address questions of painterly aesthetics. It is a condition that the portrait has been entered with the consent of the subject.
The Archibald was first awarded in 1921, and over the years some of Australia’s most prominent artists have won, including George Lambert (1927), William Dobell (1943, 1948 & 1959) and Brett Whiteley (1976 & 1978). The subjects of Archibald winners have been equally celebrated in their fields, including such luminaries as ‘Banjo’ Patterson, Margaret Olley, Patrick White and Paul Keating.