George Russell Drysdale, also known as “Tass Drysdale”, was an Australian artist born in February 1912. Drysdale had poor eyesight all his life, and was virtually blind in his left eye from age 17 due to a detached retina.
Australian art had been regarded as provincial sub-species of British art; Drysdale’s works convinced British critics that Australian artists had a distinctive vision of their own.
A chance encounter in 1932 with artist and critic Daryl Lindsay awakened him to the possibility of a career as an artist; he soon after studied with the modernist artist and teacher George Bell. In June 1939 Drysdale was recognised within Australia as an important emerging talent.
Drysdale’s 1942 solo exhibition in Sydney which was his second in point of time; his first had been in Melbourne in 1938, was a critical success and established him as one of the leading Sydney modernists of the time.
He was awarded the prestigious Waynne Prize for Sofala in 1947, and then went on to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1954 where he abstract and surrealist art became a huge influence on him. Drysdale’s reputation continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s as he explored remote Australia and its inhabitants. In 1954, together with Nolan and Dobell, he was chosen to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale.