Important Australian + International Fine Art
30 November 2011


born 1928

oil on composition board

95.0 x 67.0 cm

signed lower right: CHARLES BLACKMAN

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $69,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 23 - 30 November 2011, Melbourne

Collection of the late David Wynn AO, Adelaide

Catalogue text

One of the most appealing things about Charles Blackman's art is its sense of childhood wonderment, as if seeing the world for the first time. Things important are large and the lesser, small. Experience, nevertheless, has a touching presence in this world of innocence, the wide-eyed look encompassing the perils as well as the beauties of life. In the Schoolgirl series of 1952-54 he mingles the dark with the light; Alice in Wonderland 1956-57 mingles fantasy and fact, of small and growing big, of the White Rabbits, Mad Hatters, and March Hares of this world. Importantly, Dreaming Flowers c1955-56 was painted between these two major series, Dreaming Flowers and Star Gazer 1955 (private collection, Sydney) paving the way for the flowered fantasy world of Alice.In these and other works there are three constants "a fascination with eyes, flowers, and dreaming. The world of dreams is special to childhood and youth, much more than mere wish fulfilment. For an artist eyes are of fundamental importance. For Blackman there is the added poignancy of his wife Barbara's growing loss of sight, of entering a visually darkened world. Flowers offer a tender beauty. Nothing is more delicate than a flower. Their exquisite beauty is one of Blackman's most successful and touching metaphors of life. Dreaming Flowers c1955-56 is redolent with such things. The child-girl is modelled on Barbara, the set of her face opening up inner thoughts and deep feelings, extended through the fixed look and stillness of figure. Bright blue eyes and slightly lighter dress evoke the symbolism of the colour: traditionally of purity and innocence, its attributes are extensive, including the celestial.

As in Dreaming Flowers, the theme of the solitary figure runs throughout Blackman's art. These singular paintings also opened the door to another important group, the faces and flowers series of 1959. Of the many splendid examples, Girl and Yellow Bouquet 1959 is in the collection of the University of Western Australia and The Presentation 1959 in a private Sydney collection. Here, and in our painting, the contemplation of the splendour of flowers and colours becomes all the more acute in the knowledge of the darkness descending, removing them from sight. The contemplative mood of these works embraces deep feelings of isolation touched with poetic lyricism. In Dreaming Flowers Blackman sets his figure in an intimate bower of white daisies with yellow, sun-like centres. As symbols of childhood innocence they gently harmonise with the appealing simplicity and modesty of the seated figure. Her small feet extend the feeling of diminutive vulnerability. Blackman's brush holds time still so that such transience does not fade away.