Charles Blackman OBE 1928-
A doyen of Australian art and the painter famous for his Schoolgirl, Avonsleigh and Alice in Wonderland series of paintings.
Blackman was born in August 1928 in Sydney, left school at 13 and worked as an illustrator with the Sydney Sun newspaper. He attended night classes at East Sydney Technical College (1943-46) and though he was principally self-taught he was later awarded an honorary doctorate.
Charles came to notice following his move to Melbourne in the mid-1940s, where he became friends with Joy Hester, John Perceval and Laurence Hope as well as gaining the support of critic and art patron John Reed.
His work met huge critical acclaim through his early Schoolgirl and Alice series.
For some time while painting the Alice series, Blackman worked as a cook at a cafe run by art dealer Georges Mora and his wife, fellow artist Mirka Mora.
In 1959 he was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto, a group of Melbourne painters that also included Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval, and Clifton Pugh. The manifesto’s adherents have been dubbed the Antipodeans Group. Their statement protested the dominance of abstract expressionism.
His work is associated with dreamlike images tinged with mystery and foreboding.
In 1960 he and his family lived in London after Blackman won an Helena Rubenstein travelling scholarship, settling in Sydney upon his return five and a half years later.
In 1970 he moved to Paris, when awarded the atelier studio in the CitÈ des Artes.
He lived there for a year at the same time as John Coburn, and returned often as Paris was an eternal source of inspiration.
He has six children, Auguste, Christabel, Barnaby, Beatrice, Felix and Axiom, most of them artists and musicians in their own right.
Blackman has numerous health issues and now lives a simple but happy life, under care in Sydney.