With 99 storied years under its belt, the Archibald has presumably endured its share of disturbances in some shape or form since its inception in 1921. So, while this year’s pandemic climate may have reframed the timing of the program, true to form, it certainly hasn’t hindered the excellence of works entered.
Nor has it stood as a roadblock.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, home of “Australia’s favourite portrait prize”, has revealed that the 2020 Archibald program received a record-breaking 1068 works for consideration.
The Archibald has, at times, come face-to-face with a torrent of controversy, largely outweighed by an overarching air of prestige, positioning it as one of Australia’s most prominent art awards programs.
Then there’s the cachet.
And the cash.
The winner of the Archibald, announced at midday on September 25, receives a monetary prize of $100,000 amid the grandeur of the crown.
Of the 1068 submissions, 55 works have progressed to the exhibition of finalists, a selection of which are shown below.
All of the Archibald Prize finalists will be exhibited alongside the shortlisted works in the Wynne and Sulman prizes at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from September 26 until January 10, 2021. The exhibition will then embark on a regional tour for the following 12 months.
This year’s pandemic climate may have reframed the timing of the program, but it certainly hasn’t hindered the excellence of works entered.
About the Archibald Prize
The Archibald Prize was established from a bequest by Jules Francois Archibald, the founding editor of The Bulletin magazine.
Archibald was a passionate supporter of a distinctly Australian style of nationalism, journalism and the arts. In establishing the prize his aim was to foster portraiture as well as support artists and perpetuate the memory of great Australians. JF Archibald died in 1919 at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, with the first Archibald Prize being staged two years after his death.
According to Archibald’s will – held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales archive – the Archibald Prize is to be awarded annually to the best portrait ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.
Portraits must have been painted in the previous year from at least one live sitting with the artist.