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3 Great Australian Artists

Updated on November 6, 2014

Sidney Nolan, John Olsen and Brett Whiteley

For a country less than 250 years in the making Australia has a wealth of great art. Our galleries might not be full of old masters but they are full of great talent.

The aim of this page is to bring 3 prolific and awarded artists to your attention. Watch the videos, follow the links to their works online and learn just a little bit more about some very talented painters.

creative commons image "The Trial" one of the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan

The images here were taken on visits to the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Gallery of Australia

Brett Whiteley - The Balcony 2 - 1975

Brett Whiteley The Balcony 2
Brett Whiteley The Balcony 2

My favourite Brett Whiteley work. You can view this work at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Read more about Brett Whiteley's art and life

Facts about Brett Whiteley

  • Brett Whiteley was born in Sydney in 1939.
  • The Dire Straits album Alchemy featured part of Whiteley work by the same name.
  • He traded his 1971 painting Opera House to Qantas airlines for a period of free travel.
  • Whiteley won 2 Archibald prizes - Australia's most prestigious portrait prize. He also won 2 Sulman and Wynne prizes. One of only 2 artists to do so.
  • Brett died from a heroin overdose in a motel room in Thirroul in 1992. He was only 53 years old.
  • The studio, in Surry Hills where Whiteley worked 4 the last year of his life is now a museum. managed by the NSW Art Gallery.

Some short films about Brett WhiteleySome short films about Brett Whiteley

Brett Whiteley Life and Art

Sidney Nolan - Ned Kelly

Sidney Nolan
Sidney Nolan

Sidney Nolan

Facts about Sidney Nolan

  • Nolan was born in Melbourne in 1917
  • He was a WW2 deserter
  • Nolan married 3 times
  • He's best known work is the Ned Kelly series - there are 27 paintings in the series.
  • He also painted other famous Australians such as explorers Burke and Wills and Eliza Fraser
  • Two of his paintings are included in the book 1001 painting you should see before you die

Films on Sidney Nolan

John Olsen - 5 Bells - 1963

John Olsen Five Bells
John Olsen Five Bells

Facts about John Olsen

  1. He was born in Newcastle NSW in 1928
  2. Lived grew up in Bondi and now lives in Bowral NSW
  3. He won the Archibald prize in 2005 for a self portrait
  4. His son Tim owns a respected gallery in Sydney

John Olsen on film

More Australian artists you might like to explore

Do you have a favourite Australian Artist?

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    • PaulaMorgan profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Morgan 

      6 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @Auntie-M LM: You are right AuntyM I am planning on highlighting some indigenous artists next

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful art. With a country like Australia, there must be hundreds of great artists of all kinds.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I enjoyed seeing some of the artwork of these three Austrailian Artists.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful into to Australian artists you've put together here - didn't know very much about them previously. :)

    • PaulaMorgan profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Morgan 

      6 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @Camden1: Thanks. I particularly love John Olsen's works. I am not sure if there are many in galleries outside Australia though.

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm painfully ignorant on Australian Artists, so this was a great introduction!


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