Leonard Joel

The March of the Angry Penguins


JOY HESTER (1920-1960)
Girl with Cocky c.1957
oil on paper on board, 49 x 62cm
© Joy Hester. Licensed by Viscopy Ltd. Australia


By the 1950s, the Australian art world was invigorated by a group of artists known as the Angry Penguins. The vanguard artists of the group included Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and John Perceval. Their work was infused with a revolutionary modernism, influenced by the European
avant-garde, yet still maintaining a figurative tradition.

Our June auction is curated with a modernist preoccupation. Leading the charge, is the important De Stoop Collection containing significant examples by Charles Blackman and Joy Hester accompanied by essays by renowned academics Felicity St. John Moore and Dr. Janine Burke respectively.

After completing his schoolgirl series in 1954, Charles Blackman turned to solitary figures, loosening his technique as well as his imagination. As in the present paintings these were sometimes of adolescent boys and partly autobiographical.

In both of these tender paintings, Trumpeter 1954 (lot 52) and Boy in the Bush 1954 (lot 53), the singular figure is at once child and man, existing somewhere between dream and reality. Both float on a timeless ground with natural light excluded; the effect being that life seems to come from the action within.

Felicity St. John Moore – excerpt from full catalogue essay

Paintings of people holding farm or native animals – such as Girl With Cocky c.1957 (lot 54) – are linked to her perception of the land through its people. Hester, concerned with questions of identity, chose the face as her primary vehicle of expression and the image of the Child – often a young girl – to suggest wide-eyed innocence, vulnerability, imagination and the inner life.

Dr. Janine Burke – excerpt from full catalogue essay

In good company with the De Stoop Collection, are other significant paintings by Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, and Yosl Bergner.

Lot 63, Charles Blackman’s Sleeping Boy 1954 is an exemplary early work by Blackman, further highlighting the artist’s predisposition to portray the biographical. With Barbara Blackman further transitioning into blindness, Charles reveals his own subconscious in the painting. The boy’s reclining pose and stillness of sleep are contrasted against the crisp and sharp lines of the figure’s form and dark shadowed background.

Arthur Boyd’s The Stoat 1990, lot 64, revisits the artist’s post-war exploration of the harsh nature of the Australian landscape. Following a trip through Central Australia, Arthur introduced imagery of skulls and lifeless animals into his oeuvre, which he further revisited in his later years as illustrated in The Stoat.

We look forward to sharing these artworks with you in our upcoming winter June Fine Art auction.

Olivia Fuller
Art Specialist

Melbourne Auction Tuesday 5 June 6.30pm
333 Malvern Road, South Yarra 3141

Sydney Viewing
Thursday 17 April, 10am-4pm
Friday 18 April, 10am-4pm
Saturday 19 April, 10am-4pm

Melbourne Viewing
Wednesday 30 May, 9am-8pm
Thursday 31 May, 10am-4pm
Friday 1 June, 10am-4pm
Saturday 2 June, 10am-4pm

Sophie Ullin
National Head of Art
03 8825 5609 | 0407 360 513

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