Vale Ken Whisson

Influential Australian artist leaves behind legacy of 60+ year career.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, has this week shared the news that seminal Australian artist Ken Whisson (b. 1927), known for his unconventional and highly personal style, passed away aged 94 at his home in Sydney last Friday.

Whisson studied at Swinburne Technical College between 1944 and 1945 and received tuition from Danila Vassilieff in the years following, providing him with direct contact and influence from the seminal generation of Melbourne expressionists. In 1977 he moved to Perugia, Italy, where he lived for three and a half decades.

In 2012, Whisson was the subject of a major survey exhibition titled Ken Whisson: As If at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and his work was included in the Painting. More Painting exhibition at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne in 2016.

“A humanist at heart, his lively conversations about art, life, music and politics will be deeply missed by all at Niagara,” said Whisson’s representing gallery.

“It has been our great honour to have worked with one of the most important and extraordinary artists of our time. We are grateful for his creative legacy, but nevertheless, we will miss him, the man.”

This article was posted 3 March 2022.

Image: Ken Whisson, ‘Tree, Tree-face, Child, Birds and Tabletop’, 2021. Oils on marine plywood, 59 x 90cm. Courtesy: the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.

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