Bill Henson

Untitled 2001-2002 CB/JPC SH191N9A 3/5, 2001-2002
C Type photograph
114 x 154 cm (image); 135 x 183 cm (frame)
3 from an edition of 5 + 2 AP


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Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Bill Henson, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 8 January - 3 April 2005 and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne  23 April - 10 July 2005 (this work from the edition)

Bill Henson - Mnemosyne, Scalo Verlag & Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005, illus. (unpaginated)

'I find two ambitions in the work of Bill Henson, one essentially aesthetic, in which symbols and formal beauty end up transcending the semantic content of the work, and the other, more psychological and emotional which is produced when we detect 'anomalies' underlying the aesthetic beauty of each photograph; in fact, there is not one single element of attractiveness which does not also involve, directly or indirectly, an underlying threat. All this makes his work an excellent exponent of the ambiguous territory that we could openly define as neo-baroque - or perhaps mannerist - supporting the term coined by Omar Calabrese in 1987.' (Dennis Cooper, 'Naked Youth: The Photography of Bill Henson', Bill Henson, Ediciones Universidad Salamanca, 2003, p.23-24)

  • Untitled 2001-2002 CB/JPC SH191N9A 3/5

Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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'Henson’s work is a celebration of the amoral. He makes no judgements, takes no positions, addresses no issues and yet reveals all manner of human instincts, intuitions and imaginings. His work and its inviting intrigue compel us to contemplate the imponderable and to wonder at the impenetrable. As such they are revelations of the imagination made seductively tangible but never fully complete or comprehensible.' (Edmund Capon on Bill Henson, 2004)

Bill Henson is one of Australia’s leading photographers. He has exhibited for over forty years in Australia and internationally, with his first major show coming at the age of just nineteen at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Whether working with figures, landscapes or architecture, Henson’s theatricality, masterful handling of light and willingness to experiment with printing processes yield rich, painterly surfaces that have left an indelible mark on the history of photography.

Writings on Henson abound with literary comparisons from Marcel Proust to W.G. Sebald, the common denominator being the belief that the body is an artistic medium. Whether candidly capturing the lives of ordinary people in Melbourne’s CBD as a photographic embodiment of Baudelaire’s flâneur or in his staged and highly theatrical tableaux vivant images exploring youth and sexuality, Henson is unrelenting in his quest to document the totality of human experience from the depths of boredom to the peaks of ecstasy.

In 1995, Henson represented Australia at the 46th Venice Biennale with his unique and highly celebrated ‘cut-screen’ photographic works. In 2005, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, staged a survey of Henson’s work that travelled to the National Gallery of Victoria in 2006 to unprecedented crowds. In 2006, too, he staged his second major international solo exhibition, Twilight, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In recent years, the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a show dedicated to his Cloud Landscapes, and in 2017 he showed at the National Gallery Victoria as part of their Festival of Photography. His work is the subject of two extensive monographs: Lux et Nox, 2002, and Mnemosyne, 2005, both published by Scalo, Switzerland.