George Gittoes 'Svengali'

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George Gittoes, an Australian artist, filmmaker and political activist, has led an extraordinary life. In 1970, he helped establish the Yellow House Artist Collective, a bohemian institution in Sydney inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s artist commune and the British Arts Lab movement of the late 1960s. After departing the commune, Gittoes settled in Bundeena using it as a base for his travels to regions including Rwanda, Afghanistan and Cambodia, where he documented human conflict with a “violent, gut-wrenching expressionism”.

Dated 1971, this work comes from a series of museum-quality etchings titled ‘The Hotel Kennedy Suite’, inspired by social realist art, protests against the Vietnam War and the artist’s time in New York in the late 1960s. It is also a document of grief, created in the aftermath of the death of Marie Brebauer, a fellow Yellow House collaborator and close friend of Gittoes. Evocations to Brebaruer’s work are scattered throughout the suite, interspersed with dreams, doors and creatures – psychedelic and psychologically sharp. In the words of Gitteos, “Some doorways should remain closed.”

Gittoes has won the Blake Prize for Religious Art twice, is a Member of the Order of Australia, a recipient of the Bassel Shehadeh Award for Social Justice, Sydney Peace Prize and in 2020, received an honorary membership to the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association Inc. Bold and culturally significant, the Hotel Kennedy Suite is represented in the public collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Australia and Art Gallery of Western Australia.

For those invested in Australian modernism, significant prints or political art, this work – and the life of Gittoes – will add a vital perspective to your collection.

George GITTOES (1949 - )
'Svengali' 1971
etching on paper
Edition of 40
Image Size: 20 x 23 cm
Dimensions: 37 x 36 cm
Signed: Numbered, titled and signed 'George Gittoes' in lower margin
Comes with Letter of Provenance

Full sets of The Hotel Kennedy suite are represented in the collections of the: Art Gallery of New South Wales accession number: 433.1990.1–23; National Gallery of Australia accession number: 91.789.1–24; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia accession number: 2016/0034.1–24

Condition: Excellent 

(c) George Gittoes / Copyright Agency