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The Albert and Barbara Tucker Gift

Albert Tucker (1914–1999) commenced his art career as a painter in Melbourne in the 1930s. Within the decade he became one of the major figures responsible for an artistic revolution which helped modernise Australian art. In these years Tucker began his long association with Heide, first meeting the original owners John and Sunday Reed in 1938. Champions of contemporary art of the day, the Reeds were at the centre of the progressive milieu to which Tucker belonged. For Tucker and his associates Heide was a place where a life in art was made possible.

In the 1990s, Albert Tucker and his wife Barbara (1934–2015) made a decision to donate a significant proportion of their personal collection to the nation. They had preserved a strong and representative group of paintings and related material spanning the depth and breadth of the artist’s practice, and felt it was imperative that these works be made available to the public. While this magnanimous gesture included a select number of gifts to state galleries and the national collection in Canberra, they determined to transfer the majority to Heide Museum of Modern Art in Tucker’s hometown. To the Tuckers’ thinking, this donation would be a fitting acknowledgement of the role John and Sunday Reed played in Bert’s nascent career.

Formalised in 2005 the Albert and Barbara Tucker Gift to Heide (now administered by the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation) is being progressively donated and comprises some 200 paintings and works on paper by Tucker dating from 1938 to 1995, together with works by colleagues Joy Hester (Tucker’s first wife), Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Danila Vassilieff and Yosl Bergner. The Gift also includes a rich resource of drawings, photographs, historical documents and artefacts, and over 1000 books from the Tuckers’ library. These are housed in the Tucker Study Centre, adjacent to this gallery, and available to researchers by appointment.

Aspects of the Gift are presented in Heide’s Albert and Barbara Tucker Gallery in a series of changing exhibitions which present new research and perspectives on Tucker’s work. In-depth explorations of themes and periods of Tucker’s oeuvre alternate with projects that examine his work within an historical, art historical, theoretical or contemporary context.

Heide is a not-for-profit organisation, relying on private donations for at least a third of its annual operating revenue. Every donation of any amount makes a difference, and all gifts of $2 and over are tax deductible.