One Of Australia's Greatest Artists, Charles Blackman, Is Selling All His Works To Pay For His Care

The Shadow by Charles Blackman, silkscreen, from a collection of five titled Blackman’s Schoolgirls, with an auction estimate of $10,000-15,000, which goes under the hammer this Tuesday. Image courtesy of the artist and Mossgreen gallery

Charles Blackman’s paintings are etched in the national mind’s eye, Alice in Wonderland and schoolgirl series beguiling and beautiful.

But the gods have not been kind to one of our greatest living artists, now aged 85, who suffers from Korsakoff’s syndrome, a form of dementia caused by alcoholism.

Blackman requires around-the-clock care at his rented Sydney home and to pay for it, the artist is selling nearly 400 works in Melbourne next Tuesday, April 1, as a fundraiser.

Paul Sumner managing director of Mossgreen gallery, which is holding the auction, said the mass sale was unfortunate but necessary.

“The money needs to be raised to pay for his medical expenses. We’re
hoping to raise more than $300,000. That might seem like a lot, but his expenses are enormous. This is a short-term fix,” Mr Sumner said

“They’re all original, all from his studio and that’s all that’s left.”

The 393 artworks range paintings to drawings, watercolours, silkscreens and monoprints, dating back as far as the 1950s, with price estimates mostly between $500 and $2000. There are no major works of the kind which now appear in the National Gallery of Australia.

The headline lot is a box of five schoolgirl silkscreen prints with an estimated value of $10,000-$15,000. This auction is a chance for anyone who wants to own a work by a much-loved Australian artist, but felt they were out of reach, to potentially pick up a bargain, as well as support his ongoing care.

Melbourne, by Charles Blackman. Ink & wash on paper, estimate $800-$1200. Image courtesy of the artist & Mossgreen gallery

The travails of Blackman’s life, which includes three wives and six children, were detailed recently in an episode of ABC TV’s Family Confidential.

The Blackman works on on show at Mossgreen in Melbourne’s Armadale this weekend in the lead up to Tuesday’s auction.

You can also view the catalogue online here.

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