Tony Woods

Tony Woods was born in Hobart in 1940 (d. 2017) and achieved a reputation as one of Australia’s most dynamic figurative artists. He began exhibiting in Hobart in the early 1960s, and by the middle of that decade was being shown at various mainland galleries, such as the Australian Galleries in Melbourne, Kym Bonython in Adelaide and Sydney and later at Gallery A, also in Melbourne. He caught the attention of the artist Albert Tucker, the art historian Bernard Smith and critic Patrick McCaughey, the American collector Harold Merz, the architect Robin Boyd and Lord Milo Talbot of Malahide, who had moved from Ireland to Tasmania in the early 1960s. Regarded as a rare talent, James Mollison encouraged Woods to enter major art prizes and in 1968, having hosted the American art critic Clement Greenberg on his Tasmanian visit, Woods was awarded the prestigious American Harkness Fellowship.

Tony Woods was an articulate and probing artist interested in literature and music of all cultures and periods, and he had a strong fascination for contemporary American expressionism. He successfully combined a vigorous gesturalism and figuration with British and American Pop influences, evident in his strong linear and skilful drawing and a highly charged colour palette, which often incorporated collage and the ready-made. With a profound belief in his own intuitive integrity as an artist Woods’ exploration of the self remained a crucial preoccupation as he sought to reveal the undisclosed rather than the obvious. What he produced was often the perfect paradox, and for this reason he can be seen as exemplary in his artistic pursuit of modernism’s pluralism as well as a metaphysical romanticism. He also adhered to the belief that ‘the artist was the historian of the future because he used the unified possibilities of the present’. Tony Woods is attracting renewed interest and this small exhibition is timely in reconstituting this Tasmanian artist’s profile into the contemporary canon.

Dr Sheridan Palmer
Art historian and curator
Guest Editor of ANZJA
Honorary Fellow, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne
Research Fellow, Centre of Visual Art, VCA and University of Melbourne
Born Hobart Tasmania (1940 – 2017)
Artist, super-8 filmmaker, video/mdv & field recordings
Studies under J.Carington Smith, Dorothy Stoner, George Davis F.A.D. Hobart 1963

Solo Exhibitions

2007 Mahoneys Galleries Melbourne
2005 Fox Gallery, Queensland
2002 Honeyeaters Gallery Melbourne
2000 5opt Studio/Gallery Hong Kong
A.R.T. Gallery Eden Melbourne
1995 Dianne Tanzer Gallery Melbourne
1991 Elaine Gallerie Melbourne
1990 Tony Woods at ACCA: 28 year retrospective ACCA Melbourne
1989 Girgis & Klym Gallery Fitzroy Melbourne
1989-86 Rhumbarellas Gallery Melbourne
1984 Bolitho Gallery Canberra
1982 Quentin Gallery Perth
1982-81 Axiom Gallery Melbourne
1980 Tolarno Print Gallery Melbourne
Hogarth Gallery Sydney
1980-63 Commercial galleries Tasmania
1978 S.Gerstman Gallery Melbourne
1975, 73, 71, 70, 68, 67, 63 Australian Galleries Melbourne
1975-73 Saddlers Court Gallery Richmond Tasmania
1972, 67 Devonport Gallery and Art Centre Tasmania
1971, 69, 66 Bonython Galleries Adelaide
1970, 68 Bonython Sydney
1966 Art Centre Gallery Hobart
1965 Adult Education Board Gallery Hobart
1962 Hobart, sponsored by English Speaking Union

Two Person/ Artist Exhibitions

2003 with John Bartlett, Geelong Victoria
2000 with John Aslandis Melbourne
1976 with John Williams Hogarth Galleries Sydney
1971 with Brett Whiteley, Festival of Perth WA
1968 with Bea Maddock Q.V.Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston
1965 with David Warren Hobart
1964 with Margaret Roxbourgh Hobart

Major Group Exhibitions

2008 Personal Perspectives: artists & their portraits Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
2000 Project 2/2000 Biennale of Sydney Sydney University
Art by 4 (Johns,Bartlett,Proebsting,Woods) D.A.A>G. House Melbourne
1990 Portraits of the 20 th Century Monash University Gallery Melbourne
Art with Text Monash University Gallery Melbourne
1986 Six Contemporary Artists Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
1981 Tasmanians in Exile – Bea Maddock, T.Bridley-Bucknell, K.Lincoln and T.Woods Harrington St Gallery Hobart
1980 Victorian Printmakers Group travelling exhibition of lithographs, etchings and relief prints
1979 Drawings 1979 Stuart Gerstman Galleries Melbourne
1975 The Australian Image – Work of living Australian artists Arts Victoria
The Blue Gum Festival od Tasmania Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
1971 Bonsai show Australian Galleries Melbourne
Mini Documenta Bonython Gallery & National Gallery of Victoria
John Kaldor Art Project 2 – Harold Szeemann in Australia
First Leasing Art Prize National Gallery of Victoria
1970 Bonsai show Yellow House Sydney
1968 Tasmanian Drawing Prize QV Museum & Art Gallery
1968-60 Tasmanian Watercolour Society; Tasmanian Group of Painters; Tasmanian Contemporary Art Society
1966-67 The Australian Painters 1964-66 Contemporary Australian Paintings from the Mertz
Collection Adelaide Festival of Arts AGSA, the Corcoran Gallery Washington and toured USA
1967 Harkness Invitation Exhibition
1966 Helena Rubinstein Scholarship Exhibition Adelaide


1969 Power Fund Studio Fellowship France
1968 Harkness Fellowship (21 months painting) New York


Australian National University Canberra
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Gary Catalano Collection
Burnie Regional Art Gallery
Chelsea Hotel New York USA
Devonport Regional Art Gallery
Flinders University South Australia
D.Ardean Collection London UK
Mertz Collection USA (now dispersed by auction in Australia)
National Gallery of Australia Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery
Reserve Bank of Australia
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Tasmanian University Art Collection
University of Texas USA

Selected Bibliography

2004 David King Metro Magazine
1998 Sue Backhouse Tasmanian Artists of the 20th Century
Vikki Riley Photophile Sydney issue no53
1988 Alan McCulloch & Susan McCulloch Encyclopaedia of Australian Art
1986 SBackhouse, HKolenberg Six Contemporary Artists Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
1984 Max Germaine Artists & Galleries in Australia Craftsman House Sydney
1983 Jean Campbell Australian Watercolour Painters 1880-1980 Rigby SA
1981 Gary Catalano ‘Tony Woods and the Remembered Image’ Art and Australia vol 18 no 3