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VCE Studio Arts 2019: Whiteley Brett

by Anne Fraser

Brett Whiteley

Brett Whiteley I was born with a gift, a very powerful gift. And there’s a lot of gifted people. And I notice a lot of gifted people shipwreck. People who are gifted with great beauty don’t quite know how to dish and deal it. People who are gifted with money, you can see how easily they can run off the rails. People who are gifted with very high intelligence, and the number of them that wind up alcoholic and isolated. In fact, the whole notion of having a gift – there is this requirement in it to test it, to ride close to the edge. It seems part and parcel of the very notion of a gift to – to – to rebel against it. And to see whether it is really real. Because it can be very easily dissipated or damaged. Or, ultimately, destroyed. And I’ve had an immense problem with it. Because I don’t really want to spend a lot of time discussing the notion of the disease of addiction, but all my heroes have been addicts and I am an addict, and for the rest of my life, I will struggle against the embracing of the mysterious self-destructive self-murder, the urge to deny, defy, wreck, ruin, challenge, one’s gift. Because it is, um, a very precious thing. It’s a kind of incredible permission.

And my biography is that I was born with this gift or this infliction, and I hope to get mature and protective and to tune it and to enlarge it and to share it. And that’s the only purpose of my existence.

Self Portrait 1976

Wendy Whiteley talking about Brett

Screen Australia

9 shades of Whiteley

Brett Whiteley Studio

Paintings 'fake', Brett Whiteley's widow tells art fraud case

The wife of renowned artist Brett Whiteley has told a magistrate that two paintings attributed to him and displayed in a court room are fakes.

Wendy Whiteley said the years she spent with her late ex-husband and her own artistic instincts had convinced her the two large paintings in court 22 of Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday did not represent the artist they were claimed to.

"I know what Brett didn't paint. I do not know everything that he painted because I wasn't there, but I do know what he didn't paint. In my view he didn't paint these," Ms Whiteley said in an often fiery exchange with leading defence counsel Robert Richter, QC.

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In Dialogue with the Muse of Art History: Brett Whiteley

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