Charles Blackman (born 12 August 1928) is one of Australia’s best known painters, active from the 1950s onwards. He was a member of the Antipodeans, a group of Melbourne painters that also included Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh.
Nude and Half Moon is typical of Blackman’s mysterious, dreamlike images, and a lovely example of his work. Blackman’s paintings have performed strongly on the secondary auction market, with his highest price achieved of more than $1million, and an average over the last three years of $53,771 according to Australian Art Auction records. This painting, which is offered by a local collector at under $18,000, is a genuine bargain.
Blackman left school at 13 and worked as an illustrator with the Sydney Sun newspaper while attending night classes at East Sydney Technical College (1943–46) though was principally self-taught. He was later awarded an honorary doctorate. He came to notice following his move to Melbourne in the mid-1940s, where he became friends with Joy Hester, John Perceval and Laurence Hope as well as gaining the support of critic and art patron John Reed. His work met critical acclaim through his early Schoolgirl and Alice series, the latter Blackman’s conception of Lewis Carroll’s most famous character. For some time while painting the Alice series, Blackman worked as a cook at a café run by art dealer, George Mora and his wife, fellow artist Mirka Mora.
In 1959 he was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto, a statement protesting the dominance of abstract expressionism. His work is associated with dreamlike images tinged with mystery and foreboding. In 1960 he lived in London after winning the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship, settling in Sydney upon his return six years later. In 1970 he moved to Paris, when awarded the atelier studio in the Cité des Artes. He lived there for a year at the same time as John Coburn, and subsequently returned often, as Paris was an eternal source of inspiration.
Charles Blackman has won many prizes and distinctions, culminating in a major retrospective in 1993 and an OBE for services to Australian art in 1977. A portrait of Charles Blackman by Jon Molvig won the Archibald Prize in 1966. In August 2010, The Blackman Hotel opened in St Kilda Road, Melbourne. It features 670 digitally reproduced fine art prints by Charles Blackman.