Abstract Australis
Abstract Australis
Brighton, Victoria 3186 Australia
Ph: 0407 501 808
ABN: 66 086 690 771

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Albert TUCKER (b.1914; d.1999)

Phot of Artist

An Expressionism pioneer, Albert Tucker spent his life exploring the darker side of the soul. At the heart of his approach was a radical conscience, railing against what he saw as the decadence of society.

Tucker was born in Melbourne in 1914, son of a railway worker and a middle-class mother. He loved to draw and was self-taught, leaving school at 15 in the Great Depression. After work he would spend hours studying reproductions at the library and attending art classes, influenced by Expressionists George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann.

Like Nolan, Boyd and Percival, Tucker entered the Army in World War 2, in 1942. At Wangaratta training camp, while waiting to be posted to New Guinea, he proved invaluable preparing medical drawings, and ultimately he was posted to Heidelberg Military Hospital, drawing patients suffering dreadful wounds and mental illness. It was here, seeing things he later described as “absolutely hair-raising”, and as a correspondent for the Australian Army in Japan, that he saw the full horror of war.

After the war, he abhorred what he saw as the decay of society and briefly toyed with joining the Australian Communist Party. However, he found its attitude to art at odds with his own. Tucker obtained some solace in the life at Heide, home of art patrons John and Sunday Reed, and became part of the creative group that became known as the Angry Penguins.

Following the break-up of his marriage to fellow artist, Joy Hester, Tucker left to see the world, discovering a place where human relations seemed irreparably damaged, a theme he revisited regularly. In 1960, he returned, painting the trauma produced by the Depression and war. He met Barbara Bilcock in 1962 and they married two years later.

Albert Tucker worked right up to his death in 1999, leaving a legacy of more than 200 works that he and Barbara donated to State galleries and the Museum of Modern Art at Heide. His widow continues to work on bringing this enormous and generous task to completion.

The war never left Tucker. He once said: “I suppose a painting is my own private battlefield where I am still in the process of exorcising my own demons.”


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