That rarest of things, a 400-page biography that is hard to put down [It] will make you weep.’Australian
An intriguing, absorbing and assured account of Brett Whiteley's life and work.’Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits
Fast-paced, thrilling . . . An excellent biography.’Books + Publishing
Born in Australia, Whiteley moved to Europe in 1960 determined to make an impression. Before long he was the youngest artist to have work acquired by the Tate. With his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Arkie, Whiteley then immersed himself in bohemian New York. Living at the Chelsea Hotel they befriended Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the rock and roll royalty of the era.
But within two years he fled, having failed to break through. Back in Sydney, he became Australia’s most celebrated artist. Winning both the country’s most prestigious art prizes in the same year Whiteley’s prices soared, as did his fame. Yet addiction was taking its toll, and he struggled in vain to separate his talent from his disease.
Written with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, this dazzling biography offers the full portrait of a mercurial artist. Handsomely illustrated with three colour plate sections including classic Whiteley artworks, rare notebook sketches and candid family photos.
Ashleigh Wilson has been a journalist for almost two decades. He received a Walkley Award for his reports on unethical behavior in the Aboriginal art industry, a series that led to a Senate inquiry. He has been The Australian’s Arts Editor since 2011. He lives in Sydney.
2. ‘I am knocked silly’ 17
3. ‘I am now in Modigliani’s country’ 37
4. ‘The Shirley Temple disguised as Holden Caulfield of modern painting’ 55
5. The binoculars tighten 79
6. ‘Sparks are absolutely flying off him’ 101
7. ‘Harkness the herald angels sing’ 129
8. The American Dream 139
9. Paradise lost 161
Plate Section 1
10. Brett Whiteley and friends 171
11. Portraits and other emergencies 197
12. Alchemy 211
13. ‘Nature tells you what to do’ 229
14. Art, Life and the Other Thing 255
Plate Section 2
15. ‘I am fighting the biggest struggle of my life’ 275
16. Drawing Joel Elenberg 293
17. Recent nudes 299
18. Money for nothing 315
19. Recovery 331
20. ‘One day at a time, one painting at a time’ 351
21. The impending collision 369
Plate Section 3
22. Fidgeting with infinity 385
Plate List 439