Yvette Coppersmith snares Archibald Prize

May 11, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Melbourne five-time Archibald Prize finalist Yvette Coppersmith has won the 2018 Archibald Prize and $100,000 for her work Self-portrait after George Lambert.

Yvette Coppersmith and her self-portrait

Himself a winner of the 1927 Archibald Prize, Lambert is one of Coppersmith’s favourite Australian artists.

“His style was academic, yet he supported the avant-garde in Australia and painted portraits of his artistic contemporaries Thea Proctor and Hera Roberts – both independent, self-possessed style-makers at a time of burgeoning female empowerment,” Coppersmith said.

Over the past 21 years, Coppersmith has experimented widely with style and subject matter but she keeps returning to the self-portrait which she says allows her to work from life, with intense absorption in the painting process.

Of her win, Coppersmith said, “Hearing of the win this morning my mind was scrambling to integrate the surreal news about something that’s been 20 years in the making. I’m still trying to fathom it!”

Art Gallery of New South Wales curator of Australian art Anne Ryan said the work is an uncompromising portrait of Coppersmith as a woman and as an artist.

Archibald Prize 2018 winner Yvette Coppersmith Self-portrait, after George Lambert © the artist

“Coppersmith is a modern woman asserting her place in the venerable tradition of Australian portraiture, exemplified by Lambert,” Ryan said.

Coppersmith is only the tenth female artist to win the Archibald Prize (with 12 winning portraits among them – Judy Cassab and Del Kathryn Barton have won twice).

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said while there are almost double the number of self-portraits in the Archibald Prize this year than in recent years, winning self-portraits are a rare choice of the Board of Trustees who award the prize.

“Yvette is a highly talented young artist who brings a deep and historical understanding of the tradition of contemporary art practice. Her previous paintings as a finalist have been diverse and shown clearly her talent as an artist,” Brand said.

In awarding the 2018 winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, Board president David Gonski said the judges spent a lot of time discussing the excellent entries.

“The Trustees were very complimentary of all the artists’ works which were hung. After much discussion, the decisions were unanimous,” Gonski said.

Fred Ohlsson, ANZ Group Executive, ANZ Australia, congratulated Yvette Coppersmith on winning the 2018 Archibald Prize.

“To win the Archibald Prize is an outstanding achievement, and we congratulate Yvette,” Ohlsson said.

“The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most prestigious art awards, a widely loved and highly regarded competition that spans all ages and cultures and brings art to the people.

“It is unique in its celebration of artists and their subjects from all walks of life. ANZ is proud to be associated with this iconic exhibition for the ninth consecutive year,” Ohlsson added.

Coppersmith’s previous Archibald Prize finalist works include a portrait of acclaimed singer and actor Paul Capsis in 2008; a portrait of documentarian and media personality John Safran in 2009; a self-portrait, Rose Burn self-portrait, in 2016; and a portrait of Professor Gillian Triggs in 2017.

Source: Art Gallery of NSW

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