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 Sidney Robert Nolan  (1917 - 1992)

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Lived/Active: Australia      Known for: painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Sidney Nolan was born on April 22, 1917 in Melbourne, Australia. His father was a tram driver.  In his youth he was a racing cyclist and athlete.  He turned to art after attending night classes. John Reed was his patron and Nolan married Reed's sister, Cynthia, who was a novelist.

Nolan worked as a commercial artist in Melbourne in the 1930s.  He served in the Australian army in 1941 through 1945.  After the army, he joined the publishing firm of Reed and Harris.  He based himself in London by 1954, and lived in New York City for two brief periods in the 1950s and 1960s.  He was knighted in 1981 and is Australia's most literary painter, past or present.  Narrative painting was thought to have vanished from Australian art in the 1890s, but it made a startling reappearance in the series of twenty-five episodes from "the Life of Ned Kelly" that Nolan painted between 1946 and 1948.

Nolan's subject matter may be rugged, but his paintings almost always turn out to have an unusual delicacy - the happy result of a technique that Nolan developed by using his wife's discarded nylons.  "It is a process of putting on layers of color and then burnishing them off with the stocking until I get the translucent quality I want."

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Time Magazine, April 24, 1963
Peter Plagens in Newsweek, August 1, 1994
Gavin Souter in the Smithsonian Magazine.
The Oxford Companion to Art, edited by Harold Osborne

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