Dick Watkins (b. 1937)

Untitled 2007

Carborundum print on four sheets

98 x 148 cm

Edition: 1/5. Signed and dated l.r.c ‘R.W. ‘07’

Dick Watkins

In 1989 the Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery celebrated Dick Watkins contribution to Australian art with a major retrospective exhibition. Thirty years later the gallery has acquired Watkins work, Untitled 2007, adding to the Gallery’s extensive print collection.


Watkins was born in 1937 Sydney, NSW and trained at East Sydney Technical college although was largely self-taught. He now lives in Sydney's Northern Beaches.


Watkins’ work is heavily centred on colour and in the formative years of his practice, he played a pivotal role within the movement of colour-field painting. He was included in The Field, a major exhibition held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968. The Field included Australian based colour-field artists and was recently revisited in 2018 at the National Gallery of Victoria. 


His work evolved in style at this point away from his softer flowing works towards a more hard-edged technique. This tug-of-war between the two styles continued throughout his career and aided in him being considered one of Australia's most innovative artists of the time and in 1985 he represented Australia at XVIII Biennial de Sao Paulo in Brazil.


His style is distinctively abstract and having travelled and lived overseas, London and New York, is largely influenced by European and American art specifically Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and Willem De Kooning. Watkins does not deliberately emulate the previously mentioned mentors however being an avid researcher there exists within his works stark reminders of their influence. Untitled 2007, is a work one of free-flowing movement, it is highly emotive and offers the viewer a sense of spontaneity. His use of line is evidently and starkly obvious along with his use of mark making and uninhibited use of gesture. Simple but unashamedly sophisticated.


Clement Greenberg remarked that Watkins was in fact Australia's finest painter, a rare but worthy accolade. His works are represented by numerous institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia and of course the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery - thanks to the Friends of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery with generous support from an anonymous donor.


- Corrie Furner


Selected bibliography

Dictionary of Design and Art Australia, Dick Watkins

Barbara Dowse, Dick Watkins, Liverpool Street Gallery, 2004 

​Wolff, Sharne Revisiting the Field (NGV) Art Guide, 20 December, 2017

National Gallery of Victoria, The Field Revisited, fifty-year anniversary exhibition, 2018 ​


Selected Collections

Art Gallery of NSW

National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Victoria

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art

The Friends of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery acknowledges the Wiradjuri people,

the traditional owners of the land upon which we stand.