Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 August 2007


(1920 - 1999)

watercolour, pen and ink on paper

64.5 x 45.0 cm

signed and dated lower left: John Brack 1977

$80,000 - 100,000
Sold for $84,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 2 - 29 August 2007, Melbourne

Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne
Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 4 June 2003, lot 11
Private collection, Melbourne


John Brack: Paintings, Drawings, Lithographs, Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney, 27 May - 21 June 1978, cat.15
John Brack Drawings 1945-1979, Monash University Exhibition Gallery, Melbourne, 9 June - 10 July, 1981, cat.55


Grishin, S., The Art of John Brack, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990, vol. II, p.232, p.230 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Returning to Australia in February 1973 after a two-month trip abroad to Europe and Mexico, 'Brack commenced work on a second series of gymnasts, consisting of fourteen conté crayon drawings and ten oil paintings. This is very much an extension of his earlier gymnast series of 1971-72 and there is little that distinguishes the later works conceptually from their predecessors. Again it is either the sole performer or couple poised on the brink of disaster under the cruel glare of the spotlight. It in the earlier series corporeality had been somewhat eroded, perhaps in response to the prevailing international trend towards minimalism, now the figure is reinstated to a central position of dominance. In the second series. Brack abandons the former rather harsh pink tonality for the bodies in favour of softer, more mellow flesh tones. Formal elements of the earlier series, the steeply receding floorboards, the imposed geometric court markings and the figures balancing in difficult poses, have been retained, but a new element increasingly introduced into the work is the tilting of the entire picture plane in its relationship to the frame, creating irregular, angled borders. In paintings such as On the elbows, On two hands and one foot and the two versions of One raised leg, this trompe l'oeil device is employed to heighten the general sense of instability of the whole compositional structure. Brack had already employed this device in a number of his earlier paintings such as Inside and Outside, 1972, but now it imposes an additional note of irony, in effect tipping the balance against the precariously poised gymnast... Brack's gymnasts, mainly young girls in leotards, are frozen in difficult and unnatural poses, exhibiting their painfully acquired but absurdly useless skills. As symbols for all humanity, they hang with grim determination while the whole world appears tilted against them.'1

1. Grishin, S., The Art of John Brack, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990, vol.I, p.128