More Than Just a Painting! Archibald Prize Turns 100 Years

Published July 27th, 2021 - 07:18 GMT
Peter Wegner (b. 1953) 'Portrait of Guy Warren at 100' (2021)
Peter Wegner (b. 1953) 'Portrait of Guy Warren at 100' (2021) (Twitter)
Archibald Prize: 100 years of Australia’s top portrait.
Archibald Prize: 100 years of our most famous portrait prize and my almost 50 years watching it evolve.

The annual Archibald Prize is eagerly anticipated by artists and audiences alike.

This year Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize goes to a painting of the artist – who, like the prize itself, turned 100 years. 

'It's extraordinary to live on this planet for over 100 years and still have a sense of purpose and curiosity,' says Peter Wegner.

Artist from Melbourne Peter Wegner wins the 100th Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW). Wegner beat 51 other finalists. Wegner won by unanimous decision for his portrait Guy Warren at 100. 

“When I think about the canon of all the previous winners and I get to be one of those names, especially in the 100th year, it is just an extraordinary feeling. I am humbled,” said Wegner. “Guy Warren 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.”

The work is part of a series Wegner has been working on for the past seven years, in which he draws centenarians – so far he’s portrayed more than 90 100-year-olds and says their secret to longevity often seems to be “a drink at the end of the night”. 

The winner of the Archibald Prize receives payment of $100,000.

This year's finalists were of such high quality that two other artists deserved commendations. Sydney artiste Jude Rae was praised for her self-portrait Inside out, while Brisbane artist Pat Hoffie’s portrayal of her daughter, Visaya in a c-collar, was also recognized.

The 2021 Wynne Prize, and $50,000, was awarded to Yolŋu painter and printmaker Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu’s work Garak – night sky, a piece that represents Djulpan – the Seven Sisters star clusters.

The Archie 100 exhibition will be on display at the Art Gallery of NSW from June 5 to September 26.

The Archibald Prize is an Australian portraiture art prize, generally seen as the most prestigious portrait prize in Australia. It was first awarded in 1921 after the receipt of a bequest from J. F. Archibald, the editor of The Bulletin who died in 1919. It is administered by the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and awarded for "the best portrait, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics, painted by an artist resident in Australia during the twelve months preceding the date fixed by the trustees for sending in the pictures." 

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