Charles Blackman’s compelling Schoolgirls series, produced between 1952 and 1955, marked a turning point in the artist’s career, establishing his reputation as a significant painter of modern life in the postwar era. Through his evocative depictions of uniformed, often solitary schoolgirls in urban settings pervaded by menacing undertones, Blackman explored the themes of alienation, vulnerability and innocence under threat. He derived inspiration from a range of sources, including the notorious murder of a young girl in Melbourne, modern literature on the theme of adolescence, the lyrical poetry of John Shaw Neilson, and direct observations of children interacting in the city streets. Painted in tempera, enamel and oil on board the Schoolgirl images are rich in psychological power. After they were first exhibited at Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne in May 1953, Heide founders John and Sunday acquired several examples, reinforcing their position as the first major collectors of Blackman’s work.
Today the Schoolgirls are dispersed across public and private collections in Australia and abroad. This exhibition brings together for the first time more than fifty major paintings, including key works created in tandem with the series, and displays them alongside related drawings, prints, rare three dimensional pieces and original archival material from Heide’s extensive Charles Blackman papers.
IN THE NEWS
Heide curator tracks down Charles Blackman’s Sleeping Schoolgirl for exhibition
Andrew Rogers, Manningham Leader, 9 January 2017
Missing girl needed for Schoolgirl Reunion
Emma Clark Gratton. Artshub Australia, 11 January 2017
Charles Blackman's Schoolgirls at Heide: Visions of innocence cast into darkness
Kerrie O'Brien, The Age, 3 March 2017
Charles Blackman’s Schoolgirls are reunited
Tiarney Miekus, Art Guide Australia, 3 March 2017
Charles Blackman’s Lost Girls
Will Cox, Broadsheet Melbourne, 7 March 2017