about John Olsen

Born in Newcastle in 1928, Dr John Olsen received an Order of Australia in 2001.

After studying in Sydney in the early 1950s, Olsen's potential was recognised and he was paid to travel and paint in Europe, spending time in Paris and Majorca. On his return, Olsen introduced an expressionistic type of painting to other young Sydney painters, "You Beaut Country" signalling the beginning of his subsequent success.

Olsen's feeling for the Australian environment was demonstrated in his landscapes which were teeming with life, with irregular squiggles and dots imposed on loosely brushed and stained expanses of colour.

In 1968, Olsen set up and ran the Bakery Art School, running it until 1970. It was in 1970 that he received a commission, from the Dobell Foundation to paint the Sydney Opera House mural, "Salute to Five Bells", inspired by a poem by Kenneth Slessor.

In 1977 he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to the Arts and in 1993 he was awarded an Australian Creative Fellowship. He was also awarded the Wynne Prize in 1969 and 1985 and the Archibald Prize in 2005 among many other awards throughout his career. Olsen's work is represented in all Australian state gallery collections (Art Gallery NSW Collection), the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and regional galleries Australia wide. He is also represented in institutional, corporate and private collections in Australasia, United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America. 

John Olsen is represented by Olsen Gallery Sydney.

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