Hans Heysen

14 November 2008 - 8 February 2009


One of Australia’s greatest artists, Hans Heysen (1877-1968), is celebrated with the first major retrospective of his work in three decades at the Art Gallery of South Australia, from 14 November. The exhibition which will tour nationally in 2009 and 2010, features more than a hundred works created over the artist’s seventy year career, and marks the 40th anniversary of Heysen’s death.

Curator of the exhibition, Rebecca Andrews, says “Heysen’s art was prolific, popular and hugely influential. Of course, he remains South Australia’s most loved and renowned artist but during his lifetime, he was affirmed as one of the most significant artists in the country.”


  The Land of the Oratunga
Hans Heysen, Australia, 1877 - 1968, The Land of the Oratunga, 1932, Hahndorf, South Australia, watercolour on paper, 47.3 x 62.6 cm; South Australian Government Grant 1937, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.


Testament to Heysen’s national standing, the Gallery has borrowed masterpieces from every major collection in the country as well as from many regional and private collections, to tell the story of Heysen’s art in this exhibition.

“Hans Heysen was one of those rare artists who changed the way we view the Australian landscape. His distinctive gum trees have become part of our national imagery” says Art Gallery Director, Christopher Menz.

In addition to his iconic ‘gum tree’ paintings, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Heysen’s lesser-known themes. It traces his development from early student days painting in Europe from 1899-1903, including images of Paris and Venice, to the revelation of barren landscapes and ancient mountain forms in the Flinders Ranges from 1926 onwards.

The Art Gallery of South Australia holds the largest and most representative collection of works by Hans Heysen, including more than two thousand drawings, oils and watercolours bequeathed by the artist himself. Included in the exhibition are many of Heysen’s greatest oil and watercolour paintings, alongside rarely-seen preliminary sketches and studies. 


Born in Germany in 1877, Hans Heysen emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia with his family at the age of seven. After four years studying in Europe, Heysen embarked on one of the most successful careers in Australian art. He became synonymous with the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf, where he worked and lived with his wife Selma (“Sallie”) and their eight children, including the acclaimed artist, Nora Heysen. Today, Heysen remains a household name in South Australia.

2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Sir Hans Heysen. This timely exhibition, staged by the Art Gallery of South Australia, is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work since the Gallery’s Hans Heysen Centenary Retrospective of 1977. It is accompanied by a comprehensive, illustrated exhibition book which includes essays on many of Heysen’s most important works by Australian scholars.

National Exhibition Tour

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
23 April - 21 June 2009

Art Gallery of Ballarat
11 July - 2 October 2009

Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
27 November 2009 - 14 February 2010

National Gallery of Australia
30 April - 4 July 2010

Queensland Art Gallery
31 July - 24 October 2010

Newcastle Region Art Gallery
19 November 2010 - 30 January 2011


Exhibition sponsor

  Visions of Australia


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