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On display in Gallery Two

Contemporary Gallery

Dr John Yu, 2004 by Ah Xian
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Dr John Yu, 2004 by Ah Xian

On being established in 1998, the National Portrait Gallery, in a unique move for an Australian public museum, set about to make the commissioning of artworks an essential element of its collection-building strategy. Driven by a wish to acquire portraits of distinguished present-day Australians, by equally distinguished contemporary artists, the NPG’s commissioning program has to date brought about the creation of over forty works encompassing approaches as diverse as video and tapestry; and sitters whose professions range between entomology, philosophy, law and space exploration to music, sport, poetry and architecture.

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Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 2002 by Tim Johnson
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Typically displayed in the Contemporary Gallery are many of the results of this program, such as the traditional oil on canvas depiction of Princess Mary of Denmark, by Jiawei Shen; Anne Zahalka’s backlit photographic portrait of founding patron Marilyn Darling AC; Ah Xian’s celadon ceramic bust of paediatrician Dr John Yu; Dame Elisabeth Murdoch by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop; and Howard Arkley’s iconic image of musician and writer Nick Cave, one of the very first works commissioned for the Collection.

Richard Walley, 2015 by Julie Dowling
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Deborah Mailman, 1999 by Evert Ploeg
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Quentin Bryce, 2016 by Michael Zavros
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