© Kate Beynon, Collaborative spirits
© Sylvia Ken, Seven Sisters
© Julia Ciccarone, The sea within
© Kirsty Neilson, Making noise
© Jude Rae, On the beach (Malua Bay, NYE 2019)
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Australia’s oldest and most prestigious portrait award marks its 100th year with a landmark exhibition

Australia’s oldest and most prestigious portrait award marks its 100th year with a landmark exhibition. Each year, the winning portrait, together with other finalists, creates a blockbuster exhibition at Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales.

This year “The Archies” as the competition is affectionately known locally, also celebrates a rare cultural milestone – its centenary. So, it seems somewhat serendipitous that the winning portrait, by Melbourne-based artist Peter Wegner, was of a fellow artist, Guy Warren, who coincidentally, also turned 100 this year. Sporting a jaunty red jumper draped over his shoulders, Warren’s portrait seems filled with a restless energy that belies his years.

Warren’s portrait is part of a series of works by Wegner depicting people who have reached this significant milestone.

The Archibald Prize was established as a bequest to encouraged artists to use portraiture as a means of perpetuating the memory of notable Australians, with the result that early winners tended to mostly reflect men who had made their mark in industry. Over time, the competition has become a bellwether, reflecting dynamic changes in Australia’s cultural and artistic landscape. Today the award highlights those who have made a significant contribution to the nation’s arts, letters, sciences, or political life.