b. 1928, Australia

Charles Blackman Biography

Charles Blackman is one of Australia’s most important living artists, recognised for paintings inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in the 1950s and for his Schoolgirl and Flower series, which have been compared to Sydney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings and Picasso.

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Blackman attended night classes at East Sydney Technical College (1943-46) prior to moving to Melbourne in the late 1940s, and marrying poet Barbara Patterson. He also developed friendships with Melbourne’s leading painters Joy Hester and John Perceval. Supporting his wife as a disabled blind person, Blackman read her Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Unaware of Sir John Tenniel's 1865 illustrations of this original publication, he began to develop paintings based on Carroll’s story that were entertaining and disturbing, evoking a sense of innocence and loss. For some time while painting the Alice series, Blackman worked as a cook at a cafe run by art dealer, George Mora and his wife, fellow artist Mirka Mora

In 1960 Blackman moved to London, exhibiting at the Whitechapel and Tate Gallery and achieving international recognition. He returned to live in Australia in 1966. The National Gallery of Victoria has held two major retrospectives of his work; Charles Blackman: Schoolgirls and Angels (1993) and the Alice in Wonderland paintings (2006). Blackman was awarded the OBE in 1997 and has work in the collections all state and regional galleries in Australia.

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