In memory of Robert Hughes, 1938 – 2012

The International Print collection at the National Gallery of Australia has a special, historic connection to Robert Hughes. In 1973 – almost a decade before the Gallery opened its doors to the public – Hughes alerted then director James Mollison to the fact that master-printer Kenneth Tyler was looking to sell his collection of printers’ proofs. Tyler, who set up the Gemini GEL workshop in Los Angeles, had decided to move to the east coast and was looking for a buyer to help fund a new workshop there. Hughes was aware that the National Gallery in Canberra was committed to building a world class collection of international works, and that Tyler wanted to see his works kept together – preferably in a public museum. The National Gallery was a perfect fit.

Details of this important acquisition, which laid the foundations for the Kenneth Tyler printmaking collection, are recounted on our website by Senior Curator Jane Kinsman, who interviewed Hughes about the acquisition in 2002: http://nga.gov.au/InternationalPrints/Tyler/Default.cfm?MnuID=5

Hughes’ death will be felt throughout the international art world, and particularly here in his native Australia.

6 comments

  1. Clearly it is important to recognise both the historic significance of the work of the artist Robert Hughes and the National Gallery of Australia’s International Print Collection. With regard to the latter some credit must be due to Art Historian Pat Gilmour, not only founder of the Gallery’s Department of International Prints and Illustrated Books, but a key contributor to the building up of the gallery’s International Print Collection from the Gallery’s opening in 1982 until 1989 when she returned to the UK.

    What Pat greatly championed was the collaboration between Artist and Printer which, up until this time, had been little acknowledged, the printer being regarded as having a much lesser role. Having set up the Print Department at the Tate Gallery in the 70s, and in recognition of her already valuable contribution to the world of the “original print” James Mollison asked Pat to join his staff in Canberra in 1981 as Senior Curator of International Prints and Illustrated Books. As well as being hugely instrumental in building up the International Print Collection, which includes the acquisition of Picasso’s Vollard Suite, she was able to persuade Ken Tyler to visit the Gallery in Canberra after meeting him at his workshop during a visit to America. This was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between Art Historian and Master Printer.

    In 1985 Pat arranged a major exhibition entitled “Ken Tyler – Printer Extraordinary” featuring Ken Tyler’s collaborative work with major artists of the 20th Century, including prints by Robert Hughes. Her book “Ken Tyler – Master Printer and the American Renaissance” was published in 1986 by the Australian National Gallery (now the National Gallery of Australia) in which she extolled the work of Ken Tyler, his workshops and the vital connection between artist and printer. Many other exhibitions on this theme followed, further strengthening the relationship between Ken Tyler and the Gallery.

    As Pat now suffer’s from Alzheimers and remember’s nothing of her valuable contribution to the Art World I feel we have some duty to ensure that history is not forgotten. We also swell up with pride with the knowledge that Ken Tyler was later to donate a huge collection of prints from the Tyler workshops to the Tate Modern in her honour.

    • tylercollection

      Thank you Cathy and Alex for taking the time to share with us this information about Pat Gilmour, who certainly played a key role in the development of the National Gallery’s collection of prints and drawings.

    • Hi Cathy,

      I just came across your post as I was looking up Pat since ‘The Mechanised Image’ was one of my first books in an early career of printmaking. Years later I invited your mum to be a judge along with Helen Chadwick and Matthew Flowers for the 5th Humberside Printmaking Competition / Exhibition that I was directing from the Hull School of Art. I still have some photographs somewhere.

      It seems canny that I now live in Australia – Canberra after all those years ago of working with your Mum. Sorry to hear about her Alzheimer’s – I wish her well. She certainly was a champion of print.

      • Hi Eleanor,

        Nice to hear from a contemporary of my Mother! My Father, Alex, and I certainly remember Angela Flowers – we are assuming Matthew is a relation? In fact the information is wonderful to have as it is with sadness my Mother remembers nothing of her work and achievements and we cannot recall every event with which she was involved.

        My Father is actually writing his own autobiography and including everything he can about my Mother’s work over the years which has certainly been phenomenal by any standards. We also have a loft full of her research and recordings of her interviews with many important artists of the 20th century and will be attempting to make sure that all of this can be made accessible for the Art Historians of today.

        Her later research involved the work of Picasso and his collaboration with master printers, Aldo and Piero Crommelynck. Her article in Print Quarterly, 2001, number 2, makes interesting reading! Her last article for Print Quarterly discussed “originality” which is rather fitting as she stepped out into the world of original prints by defining the words for the Oxford English Dictionary.

        Thank you for your good wishes.

        Cathy

      • Hi Cathy,

        That is great news about your dad writing up Pat’s work as it would be a shame not to have see everything she achieved. I was looking up things for my research and that is how I was looking on the web to find more about you Mum and found your post.

        There wasn’t much digital stuff around then so nothing on 5HPC – I had a page on my other website: http://www.eleanorgatestuart.com.au/5HPC_info.html but it does not show photographs. I kept meaning to show some.

        I will have to see if I can get hold of the print Quarterly articles.

        All the best
        Eleanor

        Eleanor Gates-Stuart
        http://www.eleanorgatestuart.com

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