Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 August 2013


(1927 - 1982)

gouache on paper

72.0 x 56.0 cm

signed lower right: Fred Williams

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $48,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 30 - 28 August 2013, Sydney

Private Collection, Melbourne
Bonhams & Goodman, Melbourne, 7 August 2007, lot 60
Private Collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

It is perfectly true, it is monotonous... There is no focal point, and obviously it was too good a thing for me to pass up... the fact [that] if there's going to be no focal point in a landscape [then] it had to [be built ] into the paint... I'm basically an artist who see things in terms of paint.'1

Fred Williams's passion for the Australian landscape was reignited upon his return to Australia in 1956, after spending five years abroad. The You Yangs series of the sixties was ground breaking in its form, as Patrick McCaughey explains, 'They opened up his art, breaking down the monumental image and effect of the Forest paintings and working towards a new fluidity. Where the Forest paintings had been dense - the motif seen in close-up - the You Yangs paintings were broad and extensive, not immediately grand and imposing, but moving towards a more impersonal and abstract order.'2

The You Yangs are a range of granite hills surrounded by a volcanic plain, approximately fifty-five kilometres south west of Melbourne. Attracted to the sheer scale of the area, Williams emphasised the landscape by diminishing the presence of the sky. In this and the overlapping mid-1960s Upwey series the challenge for Williams was to find 'form in a seemingly featureless landscape and to transform the more familiar landscape motifs into a new pictorial experience'.3 Animating the surface with dabs and lines that lead the eye across the painting, Williams treated the entire landscape with equal fervour, not just focusing on the trees and the boulders that flecked the granite hills.

1. Williams, quoted in Mollison, J., A Singular Vision: The Art of Fred Williams, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1989, p. 35
2. McCaughey, P., Fred Williams, Bay Books, Sydney, 1980, p. 154
3. Ibid., p. 153