‘Howard Arkley’ (retrospective), NGV (Australia), 2006-7  (touring exh.)



‘Howard Arkley’ (retrospective): National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), Federation Square, Melbourne, 17 Nov.2006-25 Feb.2007 (subsequently touring to Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 10 March-6 May 2007; and Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 6 July-16 Sept.2007)

(photo: opening section of the installation in Melbourne [photo by Narelle Wilson, courtesy NGV])

The challenge of summarising an artist’s entire career in a single retrospective is rarely met to everyone’s satisfaction, but curator Jason Smith did well to survey both familiar and relatively unknown aspects of Arkley’s work in the NGV installation. The artist’s first ‘white’ period – little known to most viewers – was covered in depth, and his important series of heads and faces from c.1990 also received prominent attention, as did his mature suburban subjects.

Inevitably, there were some significant omissions: only two of the late 1970s ‘doors’ were shown; the works from ‘Sampling’ (1998) received little attention; none of the paintings from Arkley’s final 1999 show in Los Angeles were included; and his works on paper (particularly from the mid 80s, when he worked almost exclusively on paper) were also largely ignored, although obviously there were limits to how much of this material could be included without diminishing the impact and energy of the entire show.

Reviewers were generally enthusiastic, although Robert Nelson chose to expand on his previous dissatisfaction with aspects of Arkley’s style and subject-matter, in his Age review.[1] The exhibition was generally seen as a success by the visiting public, who came in good numbers, and were well served by an informative audio-guide prepared by the NGV, and a valuable series of lectures, floor talks, schools programs etc.

The list of works below includes all the works shown in Melbourne, in the sequence published in Smith 2006; Happenstance (1987) was also shown in Melbourne but does not appear in Smith’s check-list.

When the exhibition travelled interstate, it was reduced in scale; works shown in Sydney are asterisked*, those shown in Brisbane are marked #

 

Carbonite 1973

Studies 1974 (1-20) (works on paper): individual works shown were as follows:[2]

Untitled 1974-5 (work on paper) = Untitled [A138] (c.1974-75) [W/P]

Untitled 1974-5 (work on paper) = Untitled [A122] (c.1974-75) [W/P]

Untitled 1974-5 (work on paper) = Untitled [A121A] (c.1974-75) [W/P]

Untitled 1974-5 (work on paper) = recto of Untitled [A185] (c.1974-76) [W/P]

Untitled 1974-5 (work on paper) = Untitled [A191] (c.1974-76) [W/P]

Operations, Notch, Trim 1975 * #

Inventory 1976 * #

Organic Model (Intuitive Reason) (1976) * #

Organic Model G (Black Square) 1976 [Tolarno] * #

Pauses (Interchronic) 1976

Seltsamer (c.1976) = Seltsamer (1975)

Untitled (c.1976) = Inventory (1975)

Untitled (c.1976) = Organic Model F (Liquid) (1976)

Untitled (c.1976) = Untitled (c.1975-6?) [Three sprayed rectangles]

A Piece Called Nerve 1977 A Piece Called Nerve (1975) * #

Floral 1979 = Arabesque 1979 [Floral]

Isotype 1979 * #

Secession 1979 #

The Proton Neutron 1980 * #

Muzak Mural – Chair Tableau (1980-81) [3/M] * #

Logitex (table and chair tableau) (1980-84) [3/M]

Disco (1981) * #

Ornamentic 1981

Primitive [mural] (1981) [W/P] * #

Printout 1981

Science 1981 * #

Vortex 1981 * #

(Suicide) References and source material 1981-88 = (source material from) Suicide; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P]

Primitive Gold 1982

Primitive Silver 1982

Cartographer (After Durer) 1983 * #

Felony (1983) [W/P] * #

Suburban Interior (1983) * #

Suicide (1983) #

Tattooed Feet 1983 #

Tattooed Hands 1983 #

Tattooed Head (1983) * #

Tattooed Penis 1983 [W/P] #

Winds of War Graffiti 1983

Studies for Zappo 1983-88 = Zappo; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P] (both components owned by the QAG) #

Suicide (diptych) 1983-88 = (2-part work on paper from) Suicide; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P]

Icon (c.1983) = Icon (triptych) 1983

The Cacti Succulents (1986) * #

Fast (1986)

Our Home (1986) * #

The Ritual 1986 * #

Totems-Epiphyllum-Hybrid (1986) * #

Happenstance (1987) [shown in both Melbourne and Brisbane, in each case as dating from 1986, but not listed in the check-list in Smith 2006] #

Strange Fruit 1987 #

Zappo Head 1987 [Bendigo] * #

Modern O.Y.O.Flats (1988) [as c.1987] * #

House and Garden, Western Suburbs, Melbourne 1988 * #

(Source material for Chair tableau with muzak mural) (1988) = (source material from) Chair Tableau with Muzak Mural; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P]

Tattooed Head; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P] (both NGV components)

Untitled (Man looking onto cityscape) (c.1988-90) = Untitled [‘Man looking onto cityscape’] (1994?] * #

Arabesque Face 1990 * #

Cityscape (1990) [large]

Icon Head (1990) * #

Picasso Head 1990

Plastic Portrait (1990)

Psychedelic Head (1990) * #

Shadow Factories (1990) [Lyon] * #

Simulated Portrait (1990) #

Blue Chip Instant Decorator: a Room (1991-2) [3/M] (Howard Arkley & Juan Davila; as Blue Chip Instant Decorator, 1991-99) * #

Stucco Home (1991) #

Deluxe Setting (1992) * #

Head Transformer (1992)

Mod Style (1992)

Rococo Rhythm (1992)

Roomrite (1992)

Spartan Space (Homage to De Stijl) (1992) * #

Suparoom (1992)

Ultrakleen (1992) * #

Australian Home (1993) #

Dining in a Glow 1993 * #

Family Home: Suburban Exterior (1993) * #

Plain and Fancy (1993)

Brand New (1994)

Cosy Clinker (1994) * #

Floriated Residence (1994) * #

Indoors-Outdoors 1994

Spray Veneer (1994) * #

Outside-Inside-Out 1995 [‘The Heide Installation’]

House with Native Tree 1996 * #

Theatrical Facade (1996) [Canberra] #

A Large House and Garden (1997)

Fabricated Rooms (1997-99) * #

Riteroom (1998)

Showpiece (1998) [3/M]

Superb + Solid (1998) * #

Swatch Trestle (1998) [3/M]

The Freeway (1999) #

Homezone (1999) [3/M] * #

Nick Cave (1999) * #

Study for Nick Cave (double sided drawing) (1999) [W/P]

 


[1] Reviews/reports: see bibliography for 2006.

[2] Numbers in brackets refer to overall installation view (see above under 1974)