Collectors love: Tony Clark - Art Collector

Issue 63, January - March 2013

This profile appeared in the Collectors love feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2013.

Tony Clark, Sections from Clark’s Myriorama, 2012. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 2 panels, each 240 x 180cm. Private collection. Photo: John Brash. Courtesy: the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne

During a period in which many galleries are bemoaning a paucity of sales, Melbourne’s Murray White Room was more than a little pleased to announce that Tony Clark’s epic Myriorama suite of paintings sold out earlier this year.

The exhibition was launched in tandem with the publication of a major monograph on the ongoing series, a hefty and beautifully designed tome that complemented the theme of the show.

Director Murray White believes it was the most commercially successful exhibition that the gallery has had since it opened in 2006. “Yes. I think sell out is acceptable,” he says. “One painting remains available, however it was reserved at the time of the show concluding. Furthermore, if we include sales of new works not actually in the show, the result was more than sold out by value.”

Surprisingly, given Clark’s growing international reputation, the major institutions missed out. “All private collectors off the top of my head,” says White. “A couple of committed patrons but, importantly, many new collectors as a result of the book and publicity.”

Among the committed were long-term supporters including The Michael Buxton Collection which holds an array of Clark’s work dating back to the 1980s.

The Clark monograph was simultaneously launched in Sydney by actor Cate Blanchett at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery which has represented Clark since 1983.

Clark began his career exhibiting at the independent gallery Art Projects where he would show alongside such avant garde artists as John Nixon and Mike Parr. But Clark stood out among his contemporaries. His early works were sumptuous and moody renderings of European style topography – an approach that flew in the face of what was considered to be hip at the time.

Harking back to the 19th century, myrioramas were a series of cards depicting fictitious landscapes that could be rearranged by children to create imaginary worlds. Clark’s
Myriorama series is part of what would seem to be a stringent mission, one he has been on from the very beginning of his career, to reinvent the notion of landscape painting.

“I’ve always been a big fan,” says musician Nick Cave, who has commissioned Clark to execute two of his album covers. “From the tiny Grecian temples that he painted while he was teaching, to the giant pink and blue puttos... You can see a direct line through his work that connects the two and it is this form of travelling that his paintings do that I find so inspiring. Not just the way that the
Myriorama paintings are pieces of the one painting, but by the way each series is thrust forward by what has gone before.”

Ashley Crawford

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