Art & Design Magazine

Fred Williams Investment Art: Collecting Australian Art

By Simonbrushfield @SimonBrushfield

Nobody in the history of Australian art had a more original perspective of the Australian landscape as Fred Williams.

At a very early age the young Williams wanted to paint. He started with no money, but was determined to make a living from selling his paintings saying,

“I have never had any doubts about what I wanted to be in this life…I wanted to be a painter”.

At 19 years of age he joined the National Gallery of Victoria’s art school attending classes at night. His teachers quickly realised a talent for figure drawing and spatial appreciation.

Williams believes his initial inspiration came from ‘looking at the post-impressionists, and Cezanne in particular’.

Fred’s determination to succeed paid off.

Amongst the many high profile art collectors of Fred Williams paintings are Rupert Murdoch from News Limited, who owns several major works in his corporate collection.

Fred Williams 1979 Strath Creek Falls Fred Williams Investment Art: Collecting Australian Art

‘Strath Creek Falls VII’ 1979 by Fred Williams Oil on canvas 152.8 x 182.6 cm Private collection © Estate of Fred Williams

What I love about the painting above are the rich colours, textures and earthy tones expressed in the artwork. Williams was a master at visual suggestion, turning mysterious abstractions into beautiful mythological landscapes, which in visual terms connect people to the land.

One theme was constant in Fred Williams artistic career, the Australian outback. Referring to the endlessly dry Australian landscape he said…

“It became obsessive with me…it is monotonous. There is no focal point, and if there’s no focal point in a landscape it has to be built into the paint. I’m basically an artist who sees things in terms of paint.”

Similarly, many of the paintings created by Simon Brushfield stem from the Australian landscape, as illustrated in the painting below.

Eucalypt painting by Simon Brushfield Fred Williams Investment Art: Collecting Australian Art

‘Eucalypt’ (2001) by Simon Brushfield Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 1.8m x 1.4m (Sold: Private Acquisition)

Even though Fred Williams came from a strong influence of western art, many of his aerial perspectives produce a map like quality, with deliberate painterly marks, similar to aboriginal art.

Fred William’s original paintings are housed in art collections throughout Australia. The largest collections available for public view are housed in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

The artist also has important works in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Gallery, London.

Fred William’s paintings show a unique ability to indicate space in the landscape through effective planes of textured colour.

His greatest original paintings are taken from famous Australian landmarks such as You Yangs, Upwey, Lysterfield, Kew Billabong, Werribee Gorge, Weipa and the Pilbara.

Below Fred Williams reproduces a signature hillside motif, which was to appear frequently in his paintings.

Hillock 1965 1966oil on canvas 122x122cm Private collection Fred Williams Investment Art: Collecting Australian Art

‘Hillock’ 1965-1966 oil on canvas 122 x 122cm (Private collection)

The curved line of the hill can be understood as a simple iconographic contour of an Australian mountain or as the curved hemisphere of planet earth.

I would love to hear your thoughts about Fred Williams and the Australian landscape, so please leave a message in the comments box below.

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© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Fred Williams: Collecting Australian Art

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