A generous life – GOMA celebrates the beloved Margaret Olley with a major free exhibition
Margaret Olley was one of Australia’s most prolific artists, celebrating a vibrant and full life that spilled over into her immediately recognisable paintings. She continues to be treasured for both her contribution to our country’s cultural landscape as well as being a delight of a human being, serving as a source of inspiration both throughout her life and posthumously. Brisbane is about to be gifted a visual treat in the form of A Generous Life, a stunning exhibition coming to GOMA from Saturday June 15 that showcases Margaret’s incredible output through the years as well as her life through the eyes of other artists.
True to its title, A Generous Life truly displays the breadth of work that Margaret Olley produced during her extensive career as an artist. The exhibition pays respect to both her mammoth legacy within the art world and her extraordinary life itself – from serving as both a mentor and muse to a range of notable figures. There is a particular poignancy to this landmark exhibition, as Margaret actually spent a portion of her formative years in Brisbane – so to see more than 100 of her vibrant works gathered in this city makes the experience all the more special. Attendees can see Margaret’s famous portraits, still life images and interiors from all stages of her career, as well as many examples of her painted by other artists (including William Dobell and Jeffrey Smart to name a couple). It doesn’t stop there – the exhibition also includes a selection of works she bought and then generously gifted to public institutions pictures by European artists Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Edouard Vuillard and others.
It’s not just a massive free collection of art that you can take advantage of – A Generous Life is bringing with it a whole program of accompanying activities and events. The opening day on Saturday June 15 will be a must-do affair for fans of Olley’s work and Australian art at large – you can catch Dame Quentin Bryce and Philip Bacon reflecting on their respective Olley connections, take an exhibition tour with curator Michael Hawker, and even take in a stunning afternoon performance by the Bentley Strings Quartet of music that inspired Margaret. The exhibition also marks the return of GOMA’s ever-popular Up Late series – so if you prefer your art after hours, pencil this one in.
1: Margaret Olley / Australia, b.1923 / Lemons and oranges 1964 / Oil on composition board 76.6 × 102cm / Purchased 1964 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
2: Margaret Olley / Australia, b. 1923 / (Bananas from the garden, Farndon) 1974–75 / Oil on board / 79 × 110cm / Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne Kratzmann (Brisbane), 2014 / Collection: Tweed Regional Gallery
3: Margaret Olley / Australia, b. 1923 / Bedroom still life 1997 / Oil on board / 61 × 91cm / Purchased by Maitland / Art Gallery Society, 1998 / Collection: Maitland Regional Art Gallery
4: Margaret Olley / Australia, b.1923 / Childers Garden 1956 / Watercolour on paper / 55 × 77cm / Private collection
5: Margaret Olley / Australia, b.1923 / Yellow Room triptych 2007 / Oil on board / 138 × 290cm / Purchased through The Yellow Room Appeal 2013 / Collection: New England Regional Art Museum