signed verso: Audette
Jan Martin Gallery, Melbourne, c1980s
Private collection, Melbourne
Christie’s, Sydney, 30 November 2004, lot 26
Private collection, Sydney
Yvonne Audette painted Untitled in Florence in 1956. Influenced by the work and ideas of the European avant–garde, and especially the Italians Renato Birolli and Afro Basaldella, she was experimenting with Constructionism, which was then popular in European contemporary circles. These interests are apparent in the forms and technique engaged for the painting, with the layered application of the paint reinforcing its constructed appearance. Her pathway to such achievement had been long and rich. Leaving Sydney in 1952 to study in New York at the Arts Students League, followed by the National Academy of Design, she left the student years behind her with her move to Europe in 1955. The next two years were particularly busy ones as she absorbed the artistic treasures and new movements that Europe had to offer. She travelled and painted in Spain, France and Germany, before settling in Italy, which was to become her home for many years. Establishing her studio in Florence, her work began to show the influences of the European avant–garde, as previously it had revealed those of her American sojourn. In France it was the influence of Art Informel, Jean Baziane and Roger Bissière and painterly abstraction, as well as Vieira da Silva. In Italy it was the non–figurative aspects of the Astratto–Concreto movement, particularly Basaldella and Birolli, as mentioned previously. There was also the sculpture of David Smith and Reuben Nakian.
The spring of 1956 saw her on the move again, visiting Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, and briefly Sydney, where the exhibition Direction 1 was about to have its impact on an Australian public unfamiliar with abstract art. Audette’s paintings of 1956–58 include a series on the theme of ‘construction’, several being in private collections in Europe and the USA. Related major works in Australia include The Grey Wall with Lines, and Allegro Serata, both of 1957 and in the Queensland Art Gallery. Unlike the Australianism of, say John Olsen, her fellow–student under John Passmore, Audette’s art is essentially international, of American and European influences received first–hand and evolving in her own singular and painterly manner. Her sophisticated and thoughtfully orchestrated paintings, such as this fine early example, express the nuances of tone and colour akin to that of a considered piece of music. Untitled by Yvonne Audette is one of those special vintage works from the mid–1950s when she was painting at her best. In Australia, in recent years, her significance as an outstanding artist has been increasingly recognised by special survey exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery in 1999, Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2000, and the National Gallery of Victoria in 2007–8.