Guy Warren passes after 80 years of artmaking

The eminent Australian artist has died aged 103.

Words: Erin Irwin

Esteemed artist Guy Warren AM OAM has died this week, marking a further sad loss for the Australian art world. The artist has passed after a brief period in palliative care, and is survived by children Joanna and Paul. During his enduring career that spanned more than eight decades, Warren explored an array of approaches, mediums and styles, wholeheartedly embracing experimentation as a defining feature of his work.

Born in Goulburn, NSW, Warren joined the army at 19 and served in Papua New Guinea, where his artistic endeavours began. His time there engendered an appreciation of the peoples and landscape of Papua, and his early works on paper depict his experiences there. After leaving the army, he studied art in Sydney and London, before setting off on a career that encompassed abstraction, cubism, minimalism, representationalism, landscape painting and everything in between. He even attempted to create the largest drawing in Australia using a Cessna over Sydney, titled The Fall of Icarus, 1994.

The artist was a committed educator, acting as the first director of the University of Sydney’s The Tin Sheds, before becoming the principle lecturer and Head of Painting at Sydney College of the Arts, University of New South Wales, and later Director of the University of Wollongong Art Collection.

Warren was awarded an impressive number of prizes during his career, including the AGNSW Trustees’ Watercolour Award in 1980, the rchibald Prize for portraiture in 1985 and the Bronze Medal at the 4th International Triennale of Drawing in Poland in 1988. He also received he Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1999, and the Australia Medal (AM) in 2013. His works are in the collections of the National Gallery, the Australian War Museum, all Australian state galleries, the British Museum in London, and the National Library of Beijing, to name only a handful. He exhibited across Australia, as well as in London, Tokyo, Auckland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jakarta, Chicago, Poland, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taichung, Taipei.

King Street Gallery on William, who represented Warren, remember him as “an artist dedicated to the education, expression and encouragement of the visual arts”.

“He mentored hundreds of young artists over the course of his long and significant artistic career. He was a wonderful, kind-hearted, incredibly intelligent, funny and thoughtful person and artist. The world will be the lesser for having lost this trailblazing 103-year-old painter, teacher, philosopher, holder of history and story-teller.”

This article was posted 18 June 2024.

Image: the artist Guy Warren. Courtesy: the artist’s estate and King Street Gallery on William, Sydney.

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