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Major Margaret Olley exhibition opens at Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art
Margaret Olley (Australia 1923-2011), Lemons and oranges 1964. Oil on composition board, 76.6 x 102cm. Purchased 1964. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art © QAGOMA.

BRISBANE.- A major exhibition celebrating the work of leading Australian artist Margaret Olley (1923-2011) ois on view at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said ‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’ featured more than 100 paintings and drawings highlighting the colourful life, legacy and influence of a much-loved Australian artist.

‘We are thrilled to be presenting this major exhibition developed by Michael Hawker, Curator, Australian Art, QAGOMA, as a celebration of Olley’s extraordinary life as an artist, mentor, muse, passionate collector and donor,’ Mr Saines said.

'A Generous Life’ highlights Olley’s formative years spent in Brisbane, her enduring love of travel and passion for portraiture, still life and interiors. The exhibition includes portraits of Margaret by other artists and select works she bought and then generously gifted to public institutions, including pictures by European artists Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Édouard Vuillard and others.

‘A Generous Life’ is being shown at GOMA alongside ‘Quilty’, a touring exhibition from the Art Gallery of South Australia of 70 works by Olley’s good friend Ben Quilty.

Mr Saines said QAGOMA had programmed these exhibitions by two different yet equally committed artists so audiences could consider their respective depth of practice, and Olley’s influence, legacy and connection to Quilty.'Quilty' opens Saturday 29 June.

‘It was Margaret who awarded Ben the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2002, and whose portrait he painted to win the Archibald Prize in 2011. Earlier this month we were thrilled to have Ben at GOMA to create a series of site-specific, hand-drawn portraits of Olley,’ Mr Saines said.

Margaret Olley was born in Lismore in 1923 and later attended boarding school at Somerville House, Brisbane where her love for painting was nurtured by teacher and Melbourne National Gallery School trained artist Caroline Barker. Olley was enrolled at Brisbane Central Technical College in 1941 and in 1942 she moved to Sydney and enrolled in a diploma of art at East Sydney Technical College (later the National Art School) where she graduated with first-class honours. Olley then spent her time travelling abroad and living between Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney. Initially she was represented by the Johnstone Gallery in Brisbane and then Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, until her passing in 2011. She is fondly remembered as an outspoken, clever, gregarious, generous and utterly unique character.

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