Arthur Boyd is unquestionably one of Australia’s greatest artists, his popularity and international reputation matched only by that of his friend and brother-in-law, Sidney Nolan. Throughout the course of a very rich and varied life, Boyd was influenced and animated by many great themes. Janet McKenzie’s account elaborates on these influences as Boyd’s art developed in Australia and England, drawing heavily on her friendship with the artist in the latter years of his life.
Boyd’s artistic career began early; even in his teens he was painting professional, albeit conventional, pictures. These gave such a profound effect on the development of Australian figurative painting. By 1950 Boyd had produced a remarkable series of religious paintings, all heavily influenced by the Old Masters – his only real contact with the mainstream of European art. He went on to paint many works where his sources were specifically Australian, in particular the landscapes which, perhaps for the first time, looked really Australian, and the luminous Bride paintings, his moving response to the plight of the aborigines. In 1960 Boyd came to England, where he had a period of great artistic fertility, extending his repertory to include etchings, aquatints and drypoints, many of which were published in book form.
Boyd’s work is an extraordinary mixture of fantasy, eroticism and humanism. His prodigious creativity in all media is maginficently conveyed in this beautiful and original study, which is complemented by a chronology, a full bibiography and a list of his illustrated works. Every aspect and period of Boyd’s art and life is fully documented , making this the most complete account available of this engaging and infinitely compassionate artist.