Thursday, May 24, 2012


This is a wonderful tribute to the Australian painter Fred Williams, with some rare archival footage of the artist talking about his work.

Fred Williams ‘Infinite Horizons’ is the first major retrospective in over 25 years of one of Australia’s greatest landscape painters and is on a the NGV until August 5th.
We studied Fred Williams work a lot during my years in the Visual Arts Diploma, often reading from Patrick McCaughey’s fabulous biography on the artist. Many years ago I saw an exhibition of works the “Pilbara Series’ at the Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne University. I had many images in my head of his paintings  and was not certain about the retrospective. I can now honestly say that I was gob smacked with the ‘wow’ factor of seeing some new paintings that are held in private collections. Images of which have not been published before this catalogue. Fred Williams changed the way we look at the Australian landscape. The high horizons, the classic division of the painting into thirds, that Williams pulls off so well, the mastery of the gouache paintings and the vastness of the sometimes empty Australian landscape.
West McDonald Ranges

I can remember driving back from Uluru through the West McDonald Ranges feeling like I was traveling through a Fred Williams painting. 'The Fullness of Emptiness' a beautiful description of some of the more sparse landscapes, which Williams described as 'allowing the painting to breathe' Australia is a harsh and beautiful country as observed by Williams in these paintings. Bush fires, the remoteness and sparseness of the outback. Beaches, forests and everything we see around us every time we wonder into the landscape.
paving federation square
I even saw a ‘Fred Williams’ in the sandstone paving outside the doors to the Ian Potter Center.
Fred Williams sadly passed away from cancer in 1982 at the way too young age of 55. It was a great loss to the world of art, but what an incredible legacy to leave us with his original and innovative paintings.


  1. What a great post, Debbie!

    I was lucky enough to be visiting Sydney (from the U S) in 1987 and joined up with the NSW weavers on an overnight trip to Canberra. They were going to see an exhibit of American art at the National Gallery.

    But also showing was a large Fred Williams retrospective. My jaw literally dropped as I stood in front of his work! He changed my view of the world and how landscapes could be predicted.

  2. Hi Merna, it is a fantastic retrospective of his work, you would love it. Once you ‘meet’ a Fred Williams painting I don’t think that you can ever view the landscape the same way again. Especially not here in Australia.

  3. Thank you for posting this wonderful insight it into Fred's work!

  4. The Fred Williams exhibition is traveling to other states, I hope that you get to see it.


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