Bill Henson

Untitled 43, 44, 45, 1983/84, 1983-84
reprinted 2020 type C colour photograph, triptych
75 x 62 cm image each, 101 x 87 cm framed each

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Nathalie Karg Ltd., New York
Private collection, New York
Shapiro Auctioneers, Modern and Contemporary Art, Sydney, 
24 November 2013, Lot No. 72
Acquired from the above by the present owner
The works were reprinted by Bill Henson in 2020 and framed in museum frames under the instruction of Henson by Chapman & Bailey, Melbourne.

Another from the edition
Bill Henson: Untitled 1983-1984, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Bill Henson Photographs 1974-1984, Deutscher Fine Art, 14 June-7 July 1989, Melbourne, cat no. 58
Bill Henson - Three Decades of Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, January - July 2005

David Malouf and Peter Schjeldahl, Bill Henson Photographs 1974–1984, Deutscher Fine Art, Carlton, Victoria, 1989, image 60 (illustrated)   
Bill Henson – XLVI Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte La Biennale di Venezia 1995, Australian Pavilion, Italy, AETA, exh. cat. 1995, illus. p. 11
Bill Henson: Mnemosyne, Scalo, Berlin, Zurich, New York, 2005, illustrated p. 278-9

'In Untitled 1983/84 (the whole series) he produced large scale colour diptychs and triptychs that juxtapose images of young junkies with the grandness of Baroque architecture and high art. Our imagination is confronted by the disparity between the opulence of European civilisation at its most refined and the degradation of abandoned youth in a contemporary world. But the series contains more than the obviously potent social drama suggested by the subject matter. The most disturbing images are without doubt beautiful, often combining seductive patterns of muted colour with exquisite subtleties of light playing on a piece of fabric or skin. Henson's particular refinements in colour processing produce a disconcerting effect: when viewed from a distance the images appear to be highly detailed but as we move closer this detail dissolves into beads of colour. The effect is one of uncertainty, contradicting the notion that a photograph reveals more of its secrets on close inspection" (Isobel Crombie, Bill HensonXLVI Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte La Biennale di Venezia 1995, AETA, 1995, exh. cat. p.11)

  • Untitled 43, 44, 45, 1983/84

Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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'Henson’s work is a celebration of the amoral. He makes no judgements, takes no positions, addresses no issues and yet reveals all manner of human instincts, intuitions and imaginings. His work and its inviting intrigue compel us to contemplate the imponderable and to wonder at the impenetrable. As such they are revelations of the imagination made seductively tangible but never fully complete or comprehensible.' (Edmund Capon on Bill Henson, 2004)

Bill Henson is one of Australia’s leading photographers. He has exhibited for over forty years in Australia and internationally, with his first major show coming at the age of just nineteen at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Whether working with figures, landscapes or architecture, Henson’s theatricality, masterful handling of light and willingness to experiment with printing processes yield rich, painterly surfaces that have left an indelible mark on the history of photography.

Writings on Henson abound with literary comparisons from Marcel Proust to W.G. Sebald, the common denominator being the belief that the body is an artistic medium. Whether candidly capturing the lives of ordinary people in Melbourne’s CBD as a photographic embodiment of Baudelaire’s flâneur or in his staged and highly theatrical tableaux vivant images exploring youth and sexuality, Henson is unrelenting in his quest to document the totality of human experience from the depths of boredom to the peaks of ecstasy.

In 1995, Henson represented Australia at the 46th Venice Biennale with his unique and highly celebrated ‘cut-screen’ photographic works. In 2005, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, staged a survey of Henson’s work that travelled to the National Gallery of Victoria in 2006 to unprecedented crowds. In 2006, too, he staged his second major international solo exhibition, Twilight, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In recent years, the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a show dedicated to his Cloud Landscapes, and in 2017 he showed at the National Gallery Victoria as part of their Festival of Photography. His work is the subject of two extensive monographs: Lux et Nox, 2002, and Mnemosyne, 2005, both published by Scalo, Switzerland.