The Art Gallery of New South Wales is honoured to be the joint recipient with the Brett Whiteley Foundation of the promised Wendy and Arkie Whiteley Bequest.
Comprising nearly 2000 artworks by Brett Whiteley, one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, the promised bequest, currently valued at over $100 million, will be one of the largest single donations in the Art Gallery’s 151-year history and among the most valuable collections of artworks donated to an Australian public art museum.
The bequest pays tribute to Wendy and Brett’s daughter Arkie, who died in 2001 aged just 37. With the passing of Arkie, Wendy became the sole custodian of the collection and her former husband’s legacy.
The bequest’s artworks are drawn from across the breadth of Brett Whiteley’s celebrated career and reflect the depth of his practice. Ownership of the collection is to be divided equally between the Art Gallery of NSW and the Brett Whiteley Foundation. The bequest includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, collage and ceramics, many of which have never been on public display before. A number of the rarely shown ceramics are included in the current Brett Whiteley Studio exhibition, Brett Whiteley: Blue and White.
Major paintings in the bequest include Autumn (near Bathurst) – Japanese Autumn 1987-88 and Grey harbour circa 1978, and early career highlights Somewhere in summer 1961 and The blue bathroom 1963, recently acquired by Wendy. Other major works reflect the artist’s travels and life spent abroad, such as The 15 great dog pisses of Paris 1989 and New York 1 1968, his love of birds and animals in The Lyrebird 1972-73 and Two giraffes no. 1 1965 and the Australian landscape in paintings such as Oberon (summer abstract) 1987.
Featured image : Arkie and Wendy Whiteley. Pic AGNSW