Sidney Nolan Australian, 1917-1992


Artist Sidney Nolan, born and raised in Melbourne, embodied the wild Australian countryside with his famous figural paintings of outlaw Ned Kelly. Nolan enjoyed a working-class upbringing, including training as a commercial painter. Later drawings by Sidney Nolan reflected his early trade work, incorporating enamel house paints for a uniquely fluid effect. In 1934, Nolan enrolled at the National Gallery School of Design, but instead spent most of his time studying French poets, artists, and philosophers. 

As an artist, Sidney Nolan borrowed from these French thinkers the notion that myth was important to understanding history. Thus, his most famous work, The Ned Kelly Series, was born. These bold, stark paintings by Sidney Nolan depict the mythic Australian hoodlum Ned Kelly during a police shootout and epitomize Nolan's artistic style.