|Melbourne-based artist Peter Wegner has won the 2021 Archibald Prize and $100,000 for his portrait of artist Guy Warren AM, titled Portrait of Guy Warren at 100.
A six-time Archibald Prize finalist, Wegner painted 100 year old Warren, coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of Australia’s oldest and most-loved portrait award.
Speaking from Melbourne, Wegner was emotional when Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand delivered the news that his ‘brilliant portrait’ of Guy Warren was the winner of the 2021 Archibald Prize.
’When Michael called, my wife burst into tears, and I was speechless. This is an unbelievable moment in my life. It’s the culmination of years of my time in the studio and validation of my work.
‘When I think about the canon of all the previous winners and I get to be one of those names, especially in the 100th year, it is just an extraordinary feeling. I am humbled.
‘Guy Warren turned 100 in April – he was born the same year the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921. This is not why I painted Guy, but the coincidence is nicely timed,’ Wegner said.
‘I have been working on a series of drawings of people who have turned 100, beginning with my Aunty Rita seven years ago. I’ve gone on to draw more than 90 centenarians. I chose to paint Guy Warren because he is one of the most incredible centenarians l have ever met. This portrait honours Guy in the 101st year of his productive and meaningful life,’ Wegner added.
Wegner was an Archibald Prize finalist in 2020, 2016, 2011, 2004 and 2000, and was also a finalist in the Archibald’s ‘Sporting Portrait Prize’ in 2000. He is a four-time finalist in the Dobell Prize for Drawing and was awarded the Doug Moran Prize in 2006. His works are held in the collections of the Art Gallery of NSW, National Library of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, State Library of Victoria, and several regional galleries.
Warren won the 1985 Archibald Prize with a portrait of artist Bert Flugelman, which is included in the Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery. This is the seventh time he has been an Archibald subject, including a self-portrait in 1996. Warren started his working life at The Bulletin magazine, which was founded by JF Archibald, whose bequest established the Archibald Prize in 1921.
Brand said Wegner’s painting was selected as one of 52 finalists and then as the winner from 938 entries for the Archibald Prize 2021.
‘Peter Wegner’s tender portrait of Guy Warren provides a moving insight into the artist’s state of mind as he navigates his 101st year with characteristic grace and good humour. The fact that Warren was himself an Archibald Prize winner in 1985 adds a wonderful layer of history to the poignancy of the portrait. Who wouldn’t want to look this content at the age of 100?’ said Brand.
The Archibald Prize winner is decided by the Art Gallery’s Board of Trustees. Board president David Gonski said, ‘I wholeheartedly congratulate all finalists in the 2021 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. The Wynne and Archibald Prizes, which are selected by me and my fellow trustees were especially difficult to judge this year, with a number of worthy contenders. But the decision was unanimous, and I applaud the winners.’
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, the Young Archie competition and the Archibald Prize regional tour are all generously supported by presenting partner, ANZ.
Mark Whelan, Group Executive, Institutional at ANZ was delighted to hear that Wegner had been selected as the winner of the Archibald Prize 2021.
‘To be awarded the Archibald Prize is a significant achievement and we congratulate Peter. The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most distinguished awards, which showcases the depth of Australia’s artistic talent and makes it accessible to all of us. We are proud to have supported this iconic exhibition for twelve years,’ said Whelan.
Highly commended – Archibald Prize
This year two highly commended honours were awarded to Sydney artist Jude Rae for her self-portrait Inside out and Brisbane artist Pat Hoffie for her portrait of her daughter titled Visaya in a c-collar.