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Book: Sidney Nolan: The Artist's Materials (2020)

The Getty Conservation Institute is pleased to announce the publication of Sidney Nolan: The Artist's Materials by Paula Dredge. This is the sixth book in our Artist's Materials series, which publishes in-depth research into the materials and techniques of significant twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists.

Throughout his career Sidney Nolan (1917–1992) experimented with non-traditional materials and application methods, ranging from used cardboard and Masonite, commercial and household paints, to additives and dryers, crayon wax and spray paint. Apprenticed as a sign painter at age thirteen, he gained early experience with commercial paints, making him one of the first artists of his generation to ultimately use only non-artists' paints. His most famous work, the Ned Kelly series, introduced a wider audience to Australia's most illustrious outlaw and folk hero and the otherworldly landscape of the outback.

Author Paula Dredge first came to our attention through her extensive research on Nolan's paints, including many pots of Ripolin – also one of Pablo Picasso's favorites. With a PhD from the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne, Paula has worked at the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 1990. In 2017, she was awarded the Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Materials award for outstanding research in the field of conservation, and in 2018 she was part of the team awarded the Museums & Galleries National Award for interpretation, learning, and audience engagement (level 1) for the Sidney Nolan Unnmasked exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art. 

Paula's work on these paints made her an excellent candidate for collaboration on our Modern Paints project, which develops conservation strategies for the very different surfaces produced by industrial materials compared to artists' tube colors, the results of which are in this book. We are grateful to Paula for sharing her exploration of Nolan's career, unique vision, and experimental methods; and to Anne Carter and Gillian Osmond, both paintings conservators at the Queensland Arts Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, in Brisbane, for their contributions to chapter four.

Paula Dredge is head of Paintings Conservation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The book is available for $40 USD.

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