|Here, on the neutral walls of Denis Savill
The brilliant skeins of genius unravel,
A genius profound and over-joyed:
The works of Arthur Merrick Bloomfield Boyd.
Extract from 'Affectionate Doggeral' - A New Ode to Arthur Boyd by Barry Humphries
Arthur Boyd was born in Murrumbeena, Victoria in 1920. Seen as a talented prodigy of the Boyd dynasty from an early age, he started painting from the age of five years old, encouraged by his grandfather, Arthur Merric, a well known landscape artist.
Early in his career, Boyd was introduced to a scholarly community who stimulated his intellectual development in global politics and social affairs. He also made acquaintances with John and Sunday Reed and the Contemporary Art Society to include Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and John Perceval. These artists collaborated in a discourse that produced manifestos under the title of Angry Penguins. The aim of Angry Penguins was to challenge the conventions of art making in Australia and introduce a radical modernism that represented a new language of painting in Australia. In 1959 Boyd moved to Europe where he was to spend many years developing his status as an international painter.
Boyd was a prolific and dedicated artist who found public recognition with his Wimmera and Berwick landscapes of the 1940s and 1950s. In the Wimmera district and other regions of central Victoria, Boyd's art met with the aridity of nature. It was in the harsh, inhabitable country that Boyd first recognised the drama of the Australian desert.
Following on from Wimmera paintings, Boyd produced the Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste Bride series that represented his observations of the people who inhabit the Australian outback. Boyd witnessed tribal rituals and rites of indigenous Australians, assimilated with Western traditions; that then followed on The Bride Series 1957-59.
Foremost however, in the later years of Boyd's career, was the series of works based on the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales. For many years Boyd lived and worked in the Shoalhaven region. At first encounter, Boyd was a little overwhelmed to paint the area; he found the scenery rugged and wild, vastly different to the landscapes he knew. But over the years, painting scenes of the Shoalhaven River and the surrounding bushland, he befriended the formidable landscape. This resulted in a significant series of paintings that are not simply landscapes but rather, a fusion of Boyd's European and Australian backgrounds.
Throughout his lifetime Boyd generously donated both property and art works to Australian public collections. He was awarded numerous prizes and awards, including an Order of Australia. Boyd's work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, many regional galleries and numerous public and private collections, both nationally and internationally.
Savill Galleries has been dealing in significant Arthur Boyd paintings since the inception of the gallery in 1987. Savill Galleries has loaned major Arthur Boyd works to public institutions for important survey exhibitions, such as Arthur Boyd Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, in 1994.
'The death of Arthur Boyd in his 79th year is a great loss to Australian painting and a special sadness for those who have some knowledge of the richness and diversity of Australian painting in this century and have witnessed, if only at the irregular intervals of his London shows, the tremendous contribution to that richness made by Boyd in the past five decades.' Bryan Robertson, 'Boyd in London: A Friend Remembers', Australian Art Collector. Reference: Sandra McGrath, The Artist and the River, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982, inside dust jacket. Reference: Franz Philipp, Arthur Boyd, Thames and Hudson, London, 1962, p. 62.