Friday Files – Celebrating 100 years of “The Archibald Prize”

Friday Files – Celebrating 100 years of “The Archibald Prize”

This year marks 100 years of Australia’s oldest and most-loved portrait award.

First awarded in 1921, the Archibald is, arguably, the country’s most favourite and prestigious art award.  The winner is chosen by the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and is awarded to “the best portrait, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics”.

The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, while the Sulman Prize is given to the best subject, genre or mural project.

For the first time,  there is gender parity for the Archibald finalists, with 26 women and 26 men selected. It is also the first time there have been more works by women than men in the combined Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition.

Winner of 2021 Archibald Prize, Peter Wegner, with his winning portrait “Portrait of Guy Warren at 100”.

This year’s winner of the Archibald Prize is Peter Wegner, a five time finalist (2020, 2016, 2011, 2004, 2000). His portrait of Guy Warren (himself an Archibald winner in 1985) took out the prize.

“Guy Warren AM turned 100 in April – he was born the same year the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921. This is not why I painted Guy, but the coincidence is nicely timed,” says Peter Wegner.

“When he placed his jumper over his shoulder, the pose was decided. This portrait honours Guy Warren in the 101st year of his productive and meaningful life.”

2021 Wynne Prize Winner, Nyapanyapa Yunupinu Garak “Night Sky”.

2021 Sulman Prize Winner, Georgia Spain “Getting down or falling up.”

In honour of the 100 year anniversary, a landmark exhibition ARCHIE 100, explores the rich history of the Archibald Prize. Both exhibitions are currently on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Left: William Dargie Portrait of Albert Namatjira 1956, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, purchased 1957 © Estate of William Dargie. Photo: QAGOMA. Right: Tempe Manning Self-portrait 1939, Art Gallery of New South Wales, acquired with the support of the Art Gallery Society of NSW through the Dagmar Halas Bequest © Estate of Tempe Manning.

2021 reflected much diversity. For the first time ever there were more portraiture entries from women and out of the 39 finalists, 20 were by Indigenous artists.

With a huge interest in this exhibition, the BOYAC team enjoy discussing and picking their favourite works every year. This year our favourites from the Archibald Prize are below. We hope you enjoy our picks!

Finalist of 2021 Archibald Prize, Richard Lewer “Liz Laverty”

Finalist of 2021 Archibald Prize, Tsering Hannaford “Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC”

Finalist of 2021 Archibald Prize, Eunice Djerrknu Yunupinu “Me and my sisters”.

Finalist of 2021 Archibald Prize, Matthew Clarke “Del Kathryn Barton is a good listener”.

Finalist of 2021 Archibald Prize, Ann Cape “The odd little bird (a portrait of Sam, Cam and Penguin Bloom)